Congress wants to reveal Trump's biggest secret


It's an attempt to solve one of the most fascinating and enduring mysteries of the 2016 Trump campaign and its presidency – what about the financial life and unheard-of business? from the president that he does not want Americans to see?

The historic move, made official Wednesday by House Committee on Ways and Means Richard Neal, is quite certain to spark a legal battle that shrinks Trump's best-kept secrets, which could last for months or even weeks. years, while shaping the 2020 election field.

The confrontation, in its broadest sense, will determine the extent to which Congress has the power to scrutinize the executive and apply a long-respected norm that candidates and presidents make public their results.

But Democrats say it's not a matter of choice, it's the law because they are once again looking to overlap the line of demarcation between legitimate scrutiny and the risk of being perceived as an excess likely to turn against them politically.

This request represents a remarkable moment and another monument to the unconventional nature of the Trump era, since no Congress has attempted to meet such a challenge – simply because no president has resisted such a test. fundamental transparency.

Neal, the only Capitol Democrat with the power to take such action, uses a little-known code from the IRS to ask for six years of Trump's personal returns, as well as registrations of eight of the president's business entities. His request is narrowly focused and rooted in legal technicality.

But proponents of Trump 's campaign to clarify taxes argue that it is essential that Congress determines whether there are conflicts of interest that weigh on its official duties and to see if it' s right. he receives payments from foreign states in violation of the emoluments clause. of the Constitution.

The Democrats also justified their efforts to open Trump's statements in order to examine how far he and his businesses – which he is not totally disaffected – have benefited from the GOP's massive tax reform law.

Trump has also been accused, notably by his former lawyer Michael Cohen, of having both deflated and overestimated the value of his property and holdings in insurance claims and loan applications, a practice that could illuminate the situation.

"In our … rights"

The fight for Donald Trump's tax returns is officially launched

Neal, who was facing growing pressure from liberal activists to speed up a meticulous process of demand for return, insisted that his decision was "policy and not politics", in a letter to the government. ; IRS.

"I'm sure we respect our legitimate rights in legislative, legal and oversight," said in a statement Neal, a sixteen-member American Congressman little known outside of Massachusetts, or in the local of power at Capitol Hill.

Neal, 70, will now get rid of his relative darkness and become one of the greatest political generals in the Democratic battle against Trump – and will have to accept all the vitriol, attacks and taunts that accompany the president.

Although he insisted that his gesture was not political, he will inevitably appear in the context of a growing use of the democratic force as a result of the takeover of the House by the left in November.

This week again, the House Committee Chairs have prepared subpoenas to request the full publication of Robert Mueller's report on Russia and to review allegations of abuse in the handling of highly secretive security clearances. by the White House.

Neal's intervention comes less than two weeks after the end of Mueller's investigation and a summary by Attorney General William Barr indicates that the special advocate has not established that 39 there was cooperation between the Trump team and Russia's electoral intrusion scheme, or to decide whether the president was obstructing justice.

The demand has dampened the hopes of the party-backed Liberals that a saga of indictment may be looming. However, the New York Times reported late Wednesday that some of Mueller's investigators had told their associates that the findings of the initial report were more damaging to the president than Barr had said.

Trump rejected the Democrats' demand for his taxes on Wednesday night, using phraseology similar to the one he was asked during the election campaign about his taxes.

Asked about respect for the Democrat party's demand, Trump said that "as long as I have not been audited, I would not be inclined to do so."

Another unreasonable review?

Republicans are certain to argue that Trump's demand for taxes is another example of unreasonable scrutiny from frustrated Democrats by indications that Mueller's report would not condemn Trump's presidency. One of the reasons why the demand seems relatively limited – for returns between 2013 and 2018 – could be to limit research to the period before and during Trump's political career and avoid the accusations that Democrats would throw in an illegitimate fishing. shipping.

The tragedy threatens to attract some key members of the Trump administration, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

At a congressional hearing in March, Mnuchin had declared that he "would abide by the law" when he was asked to disclose Trump's statements – while suggesting that the appeal final would belong to the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

It is therefore significant that Neal's request was made to the IRS and not to the Treasury.

It is certain that the President would see any decision made by Mnuchin to involve and comply with Neal's request as a flagrant personal betrayal.

Neal's bet now puts Charles Rettig, the current IRS commissioner, appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, in a delicate political stance.

It is almost certain that the administration will take steps to challenge the democratic interpretation of the law on which the claim is based. Such a scenario could see the Ways and Means Committee issue a subpoena after Neal's April 10 deadline and the triggering of a complicated legal duel.

The fight could become a famous cause that makes its way into the judicial system and even reaches the Supreme Court, as well as the conservative majority newly reconstituted by Trump.

The committee spent weeks planning for the move in the hope of preparing the most comprehensive case possible for the upcoming court battle.

Neal argued that he needed to see Trump's returns in order to properly take into account the laws relating to the practice of verifying presidents by the IRS.

"According to the Internal Revenue Manual, a president's tax returns are subject to mandatory review, but this practice is the policy of the IRS and is not codified in legislation federal tax, "writes Neal in a letter to the IRS.

"It is necessary that the committee determine the scope of any such review and that it include a review of the underlying business activities to be included in the personal income tax return."

Trump has long seen the painstaking and complex scrutiny of his personal finances as a red line not to cross.

In addition to Trump's personal records, Neal requested information from the President's business entities, including Bedminster Golf Course LLC, and DJT Holdings LLC, Managing Member of DJT Holdings LLC, DTTM LLC Operations, Director of DTTM Operations. , Corp. and LFB Acquisition LLC.

Neal's application is specific and, pursuant to the section of the IRS code that he uses only himself, no other House committee chair can view the return.

It would take a vote in the committee to make these documents public, if they are finally made.

Lauren Fox from CNN contributed to this report.

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