Democrats Just Ramped Up Their Fight for Trump’s Taxes

Congress gives the administration one week to comply.

Cheriss May/Zumapress

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

The Democratic chair of the House Ways and Means Committee issued a subpoena on Friday for President Donald Trump’s tax returns—escalating the democrats’ years-long effort to unveil Trump’s taxes.

Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who has unilateral subpoena power as the committee’s leader, took the step after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused earlier this week to release six years of Trump’s tax returns in response to a request by Democrats. In their ask, Democrats had cited a nearly century-old and rarely-used law stipulating that the House Ways and Means chairman can request any person’s tax information, and that the Treasury department “shall furnish” them to Congress. Some interpretations of the law add that the committee should have a legitimate legislative purpose for requesting this information. Mnuchin rejected Democrats’ request after weeks of delay and deliberation, sharing his determination that the committee “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

In response, Neal turned to the committee’s lawyers to recommend a response. “Upon the advice of counsel, I issued subpoenas today to the Secretary of the Treasury and the Commissioner of the IRS for six years of personal and business returns,” Neal wrote in a Friday statement.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material. I sincerely hope that the Treasury Department will furnish the requested material in the next week so the committee can quickly begin its work.”

The top Republican on the House Ways and Means committee, Rep. Kevin Brady, on Friday called Democrat’s efforts to obtain Trump’s taxes “illegitimate” and politically-motivated in a letter to Neal. He called the subpoena an example of Democrats’ “coordinated attempt to weaponize the tax code and use Congress’s legitimate oversight authority for political gain.”

Neal’s subpoena request gives the Treasury department until 5 PM on Friday to send Trump’s taxes to Congress. Even if the agency complies, there’s no guarantee that the documents would be made available to the public. The request asks for Trump’s personal taxes and some of his business returns from 2013 through 2018.

This subpoena sets up what could become a protracted legal fight: If the administration reject’s Neal’s subpoena, as is widely expected, Democrats will be forced to wage a court battle seeking Trump’s taxes—one that could end up before the Supreme Court. 

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate