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House Dems to Demand Trump Tax Returns

Newsweek logo Newsweek 11/7/2018 Tom Porter

Democrats will use their new House majority to demand President Donald Trump’s tax returns as they subject the administration to a tough new regime of oversight.

MSNBC’s Ari Melber first reported Tuesday night plans by Representative Richard Neal, ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, to use his powers as committee chairman to see the returns.

Massachusetts Democrat Neal, who is expected to lead the committee after Democrats took hold the of House in Tuesday's midterms, told CNN in October that he first plans to ask Trump for the tax returns, and if the president refuses, Neal will use an obscure 1924 IRS code law to formally request them. 

"I think we would all be comfortable if this was done on a voluntary basis," Neal said. "If they would resist the overture then I think you could probably see a long and grinding court case."

Trump broke with decades of precedent when he launched his bid for the presidency by refusing to make public his tax returns. The White House claims the tax returns are under audit, and cannot be released until this is completed. 

a man wearing a suit and tie © Getty Images

The law Neal intends to use gives the Ways and Means committee chairman the power to demand and receive any taxpayer records from the IRS for confidential review. The request is expected to be challenged by the president's lawyers, leading to a protracted court battle.

Elijah Cumming, the Democrat from Maryland expected to lead the House Oversight Committee, told CNN that the president’s tax returns could also form part of the panel’s probes into alleged violations of the Emoluments clause of the Constitution, but said committees would probably coordinate oversight efforts. 

House Democrats are also expected to use their new powers to launch investigations into the administration’s controversial policies, alleged collusion with Russia, and more. 

Trump on Tuesday, when questioned on the prospect of a legal fight over his tax documents if the Democrats win the House, commented "I don't care. They can do whatever they want, and I can do whatever I want.”

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