The Department of Justice on Friday said former President Trump’s tax returns must be released by the IRS to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel said the committee – which first requested the returns over two years ago – showed “sufficient reasons” to validate its bid to review the former president’s taxes.
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“The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information,” Dawn Johnsen, acting assistant attorney general wrote in an opinion Friday. “Under section 6103(f)(1), Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee.”
The Office of Legal Counsel argued that when a congressional committee requests access to a president’s tax returns, “the executive branch should conclude that the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose only in exceptional circumstances.”
The opinion by the DOJ is a reversal of stance from the Trump administration’s 2019 judgment, which alleged the congressional committee lacked legitimate justification for reviewing the tax returns.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., applauded the decision and claimed the committee had a “strong” case.
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“As I have maintained for years, the Committee’s case is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward,” Neal said.
The committee sued the Trump administration in July 2019 after it refused to hand over six years of Trump’s personal tax returns, along with six years of returns for eight of his businesses.
Trump later sued the committee in an attempt to block the disclosure of any returns it may receive, alleging the purpose of the request was partisan and illegitimate.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi championed the DOJ’s decision and said the opinion “delivered a victory for the rule of law.”
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“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security,” she added. “The American people deserve to know the facts of his conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president.”
Trump has yet to publicly comment on the DOJ’s opinion.