The Biden Justice Department on Friday said the Treasury Department must turn over former President Donald Trump‘s tax returns to a House committee.
In a 39-page opinion, the Office of Legal Complaints found that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal “has invoked sufficient reasons” for requesting Mr. Trump‘s tax returns filed over the past five years.
“We believe that there is ample basis to conclude that its June 2021 request for former President Trump‘s tax information would further the Committee’s principal stated objective of assessing the IRS’s presidential audit program — a plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation,” the opinion states.
The DOJ noted that even if some members of Congress want to see the tax records “merely for the sake of exposure … that would not invalidate the legitimate objectives that the Committee’s receipt of the information in question could serve.”
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, said he disagrees with the Justice ruling because he believes the tax returns “absolutely” will be leaked to the public by lawmakers.
“I think law enforcement should, in an appropriate case, get access to the tax returns,” Mr. Cornyn told reporters Friday. “But one of the pretty foundational understandings is that your tax returns are going to be private and not going to be shared widely, publicly. So I hate for them to now be turned over to Congress and invariably [they] will leak to the public. I hate to see us head down that path.”
Committee members say the records are necessary to determine “the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the federal tax laws against a president.”
Mr. Trump, however, rejected the request, which prompted the committee to file a lawsuit.
A member of the Treasury Department told The New York Times on Friday that it plans to give the records to the House committee as part of the ongoing litigation. Officials are reportedly planning to notify the court, which will then make a briefing schedule to decide the next course of action.
Mr. Neal, Massachusetts Democrat, applauded the DOJ’s decision in a statement Friday.
“As I have maintained for years, the committee’s case is very strong and the law is on our side,” Mr. Neal said. “I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward.”
Friday’s opinion comes more than a year after the Supreme Court ruled Mr. Trump’s tax returns must be released to New York prosecutors. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office requested the documents in its criminal investigation into the Trump Organization.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, called the decision a “victory for the rule of law.”
“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security,” Mrs. Pelosi said in a statement Friday. “The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president.”
• Dave Boyer contributed to this report.
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