Democrats had barely wrested control of the House Tuesday night when they demanded President Donald Trump turn over his tax returns. Wednesday morning, Democrats declared that investigating Trump’s personal financial records would be the first item on their agenda come January.
Democratic Representative Richard Neal (MA) told MSNBC Tuesday night that he plans on using his newfound power as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to force the President to turn over his tax returns, and that he’ll subpoena the records if necessary.
MSNBC: House Democrats request Trump’s Tax Returns
Tonight. No, I’m not kidding.
— Mickey White (@BiasedGirl) November 7, 2018
Neal declared his intentions back in October, Newsweek reports, and claimed then that he could use an obscure 1924 provision in the United States tax code, that allows the Ways and Means Committee to view any American’s tax returns upon request, to obtain Trump’s records straight from the IRS (though he’d prefer it if the President simply complied with his wishes).
“I think we would all be comfortable if this was done on a voluntary basis,” Neal said. “If they would resist the overture then I think you could probably see a long and grinding court case.”
It’s not clear what Neal hopes to learn from Trump’s tax returns, but the President hasn’t exactly been willing to turn over his financial information, either, perhaps leading Democrats to suspect he’s hiding valuable information on how his finances and his position as President intertwine. During the 2016 campaign, Trump broke with tradition and did not disclose details of his or his corporation’s finances, claiming that he and his company were under audit by the IRS.
The IRS does not comment on whether there is an ongoing investigation, but other evidence seemed to suggest that wasn’t true — and the IRS noted, publicly, that individuals under audit were under no obligation to keep their returns secret.
If he moves forward with his plan, Neal will have to fight fellow Democrats for the honor of issuing the subpoena, if it comes to that. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who will likely take over the House Oversight Committee, has expressed a desire to see Trump’s tax returns and investigate whether Trump has run afoul of the Constitution’s Emoluments clause, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts from foreign entities while in a position to direct policy without the express consent of Congress.
Rep. Maxine Waters, who will now chair the House Financial Services Committee, hasn’t said outright that she plans on investigating the President, but it’s not likely she’ll pass on the opportunity.
In addition to Trump’s financials, Democrats have, in recent weeks, suggested that they plan on initiating an investigation into whether Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted young women while a teenager in suburban Washington, D.C., and re-opening a probe into whether members of the Trump Presidential campaign actively colluded with Russian officials to impact the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election.
Trump won’t be taking the investigations sitting down, a point he made clear on Twitter Wednesday morning.
If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 7, 2018
“If the Democrats think they are going to waste Taxpayer Money investigating us at the House level, then we will likewise be forced to consider investigating them for all of the leaks of Classified Information, and much else, at the Senate level. Two can play that game!” Trump tweeted.
If Neal does demand Trump’s IRS records, the President is expected to initiate aggressive litigation in response.