Attorney General Bill Barr did what he does best – enrage the left. The Department of Justice just issued a new legal opinion denying them access to President Trump’s taxes, setting up another showdown in the courts.
Bill Barr and the DOJ argued that the Dems are just acting in bad faith and thus shouldn’t get access to certain Trump records.
On Friday, The AP News reported that the Justice Department issued a legal opinion finding that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin was right to withhold President Trump’s tax returns from a House committee that subpoenaed them.
The House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed six years of President Trump’s tax returns in May, but the Treasury Department refused to provide the documents. At the time, Mnuchin said the request lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose.”
The 33-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal wanted to make President Trump’s tax returns public and because of that plan, the request was not to carry out a legitimate legislative function.
But Neal has said the law is clear the information must be released to Congress, the documents were sought to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS is doing its job properly to audit a sitting president, and obtaining them would be a “necessary piece” of the committee’s work.
“The Chairman’s request that Treasury turn over the President’s tax returns, for the apparent purpose of making them public, amounted to an unprecedented use of the Committee’s authority and raised a serious risk of abuse,” the opinion said.
The Dems sought President Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information when requested to the chairs of Congress’ tax-writing committees. Besides President Trump, every president since Richard Nixon has made his tax returns public.
Last month, Neal said that he did not plan to hold Mnuchin in contempt, clamming that the committee may instead pursue a legal fight to force the Treasury Department to turn over the documents.
A spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee said the legal opinion was still being reviewed and declined to comment further. Representatives for the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Justice Department’s backing of Treasury’s refusal to provide President Trump’s tax returns is likely to further tensions between congressional Democrats and Attorney General Bill Barr, whom they’ve accused of trying to stonewall Congress’ constitutional oversight power.
Last month, The House Judiciary Committee voted to hold AG Barr in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena for an unredacted version of special counsel Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation and underlying investigative records. Earlier this week, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold AG Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for failing to comply with subpoenas for documents related to a decision adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.