Former President Donald Trump is fighting a request by the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee for his tax returns, part of what the committee says is its usual oversight of how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits presidents.
In a 37-page court filing on Wednesday, the former president’s attorneys claimed that the committee was making a clear effort to embarrass Mr Trump by obtaining his tax returns and publishing politically damaging information.
The committee scored a victory just days ago when the Justice Department reversed a 2019 decision and wrote that the lawmakers are entitled to Mr Trump’s returns under federal law, which states that the Treasury Department will produce tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee or Senate Finance Committee if either body requests them.
The lengthy court filing depicted the Democrats’ efforts as purely political, citing as evidence years of statements from various lawmakers and political figures regarding desires to obtain Mr Trump’s tax returns and beliefs that evidence of criminal activity would be found within.
“While House Democrats had offered countless justifications for obtaining the president’s tax returns, no one at the time had ever mentioned a desire to find out how the IRS audits presidents,” the filing reads.
“The primary purpose of the requests is to obtain and expose Intervenors’ information for the sake of exposure, to improperly conduct law enforcement, or some other impermissible goal—not to study federal legislation,” it continues.
Democrats have long sought to see Mr Trump face some sort of consequences for allegedly shady financial dealings; the calls for his tax returns to be released began before he was elected president in 2016, and have continued since he left office in January.
Those voices only grew louder following testimony of his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2019, when Mr Cohen suggested that the president illegally devalued his personal properties for tax purposes, among other alleged tax crimes.
The former president has never been charged with a crime, but a number of his close associates including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, went to prison for various financial crimes before being pardoned by their ally in the White House.
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