The Justice Department’s (DOJ) order to release former President Donald Trump’s tax returns appears to be purely political and sets a dangerous precedent, said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
In 2019, the department said that Representative Richard Neill (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was not to file the return because Neil was “disrespectful” about the true purpose of seeking the return.
On July 31, an attorney for the Department of Legal Counsel (OLC) reversed the decision, accusing the panel of “incorporating face-valid reasons for its request.”
Grassley was also among those who opposed the move.
“The federal government closely protects private taxpayer information for a reason. It seems to me that this new Biden Justice Department opinion is just politics. The Office of Legal Counsel is supposed to be a source of thoughtful legal analysis, not partisan A source of political justification for supporting the House investigation. The trouble is that this new OLC opinion contradicts its most recent opinion,” a top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee said in a statement. said in.
Grassley noted that the Treasury Department’s career inspector general, Richard Delmar, confirmed last year that the Treasury Department had acted separately when deciding to issue returns to Neil.
“There is no legitimate legislative purpose to target an individual’s tax information in this way, even if it is a former president. It has always been clear that House Democrats wanted to obtain tax returns of former presidents so that they could be shared with the public. The excuse of the Ways and Means Committee to oversee the President’s audit program is an obvious excuse that doesn’t deserve any respect from the Treasury Department. No matter who it is, private taxpayer information This kind of partisan and targeted abuse is a very dangerous precedent that will harm our country,” Grassley said.
Other Republicans were also against the decision.
“While you believe President Trump should have made his tax returns public, every taxpayer should be concerned with this politically motivated Justice Department decision,” said Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas), top GOP on House Ways and Means. member committee said in a statement.
“Privacy should matter. Instead, it sets a dangerous precedent that arms the tax code by giving Congress the dangerous power to rummage through one’s personal tax returns for purely political reasons. If politicians in Congress can demand and eventually make public the president’s private tax returns, what stops them from doing the same to others they see as political enemies?
Brady said Neil had previously said he wanted to make Trump’s return public.
Don Johnson, acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, said in a Friday legal opinion that officials could not know whether the information would be made public.
“We think the committee will handle the tax information received with sensitivity to taxpayer privacy concerns,” Johnson wrote.
Trump has not responded to a request for comment, nor has he or his team responded to the reversal.
Democrats praised the decision.
“Democrats requested former President Trump’s tax return more than two years ago. The law is on our side, but the request was blocked by the Trump administration. Thank you [Attorney General Merrick] Right to call Garland,” Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said on Twitter.
“I applaud the DOJ’s decision to provide Donald Trump Treasury’s tax returns to Congress to ensure compliance and fulfill its duties with the emoluments clause. No one is above the law, here. Not even the President of the United States,” said Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas).
The Epoch Times