Democrats are making good on their promise to investigate President Donald Trump's finances, despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller's finding that the Trump 2016 presidential campaign did not collude with Russian officials to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Late Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) announced that he has formally requested that the IRS turn over at least six years worth of Donald Trump's personal tax returns — those returns filed between 2013 and 2018. According to his official letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin made public Thursday morning, Neal has also requested financial documents related to Trump's trusts, holding and acquisition companies, and his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club.
Neal has apparently done his research; he made the request under a little-known statute, Internal Revenue Code 6103(f), that allows the Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means (or the chair of any finance committee in Congress), specifically, to request the personal tax records of any individual, provided that, once produced, they are kept secret and confidential.
There's a catch on the confidentiality, too: if the records make their way to regular members of Congress, who end up reviewing them, the seal of confidentiality is broken, and Trump's records could then be made public, according to Fox News legal expert, Judge Andrew Napolitano.
Even CNN describes the request as "rooted in a legal technicality."
Trump brushed off the request Thursday, telling reporters, "Is that all? Oh, usually it's 10 so I guess they're giving up."
He added that he does not believe the Treasury Secretary or the IRS has to provide Congress with his tax returns so long as he is under audit, as he currently claims to be.
"Now, we're under audit, despite what people said. We're working that out as -- I'm always under audit it seems. But I've been under audit because the numbers are big and I guess when you have a name you're audited. But until such time as I'm not under audit I would not be inclined to do that," Trump added.
Neal told CNN that he believes his request will be fulfilled, though perhaps not without a fight.
"I am certain we are within our legitimate legislative, legal and oversight rights," Neal said in a statement emailed to news outlets, adding that his request is about "policy not politics."
"My preparations were made on my own track and timeline, entirely independent of other activities in Congress and the administration," Neal added. "My actions reflect an abiding reverence for our democracy and our institutions, and are in no way based on emotion of the moment or partisanship. I trust that in this spirit, the IRS will comply with federal law and furnish me with the requested documents in a timely manner."
Of course, such a suggestion — that Neal's motivation has nothing to do with partisanship -- seems patently false. Democrats have been promising a full investigation into Donald Trump's finances since Trump first took office, and activist groups have only clamored more forcefully for Trump's tax returns in the wake of the Mueller report, which dashed their hopes of a quick and easy impeachment.
Democrats in the House have made multiple requests for Trump's taxes as well, and both Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) have said they will issue subpoenas not just to the IRS but to various banks that had dealings with Trump and his companies.