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The Justice Department on Friday backed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a battle with Congress over the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

In a 33-page opinion, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Steven A. Engel, said a request made by the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal on April 3 for Trump’s tax returns “raised a serious risk of abuse.”

“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,” wrote Engel.

Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, asked Mnuchin for the past six years of Trump’s tax returns as well as records from eight of his companies. One of his arguments was that the returns would serve a legislative purpose of some sort.

“This request is about policy, not politics; my preparations were made on my own track and timeline, entirely independent of other activities in Congress and the Administration,” Neal said.

He said in the request that he wanted to investigate the IRS’s policy regarding to auditing of presidents’ and vice-presidents’ tax returns.

Trump’s personal attorneys pushed back against the request, arguing Neal sought the tax returns for political reasons. And in a May 6 letter, Mnuchin rejected Neal’s request, calling it “unprecedented,” and saying it “presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers.”

Neal responded to Mnuchin’s letter four days later by subpoenaing the Treasury Department.

Engel sided with Mnuchin, noting in his opinion that Neal was one of numerous Democrats to call for the public release of Trump’s taxes before the 2018 midterms.

“Committee Democrats remain steadfast in [their] pursuit to have [President Trump’s] individual tax returns disclosed to the public,” Neal said, according to Engel.

“Under the facts and circumstances, the Secretary of the Treasury reasonably and correctly concluded that the Committee’s asserted interest in reviewing the Internal Revenue Service’s audits of presidential returns was pretextual and that its true aim was to make the President’s tax returns public, which is not a legitimate legislative purpose,” Engel wrote in his letter, which was submitted to the Treasury Department’s general counsel.

  • Margie says:

    It’s time the American People Open their eyes and
    Demand Democrats stop Abusing us!!
    It’s pure Abuse to use our tax money for Democrats own personal gains and interests, with all these needless investigations!
    The Mueller Report is Finished, at a cost of $40 million dollars, Now Democrats we see how you are abusing the common American and running right over us, by wasting our tax dollars!!
    I demand Democrats stop wasting our money!!

  • Texas says:

    Democrats have sold America to line their greedy pockets!
    Democrats have no allegiance to America, they sell our state secrets, sell favors to Foreign Countries even if it destroyed Americans, Clinton’s were the worst Criminals but it continued under the Obama/ Biden Administration!
    We don’t want more of this, Stop the Mafia Organization Now!! Do not Vote for another Democrat!
    Democrats don’t care about Americans lives, they only care about getting more money in their greedy hands!!

    At least Republicans will not sell out America and throw away the American People to DIE!!

  • CF