U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta has issued a 41-page opinion in favor of the House Oversight Committee in its subpoena of the accounting firm Mazars USA to obtain financial documents related to President Donald Trump. It is a significant victory for the Congress in its fights with the White House given the ambiguously stated legislative purpose behind the demand. However, as I testified last week before the House Judiciary Committee, Congress is likely to win such fights over legislative purpose and courts are unlikely to entertain challenges based on alleged improper or political motives by Congress. It is important however to note that this was a subpoena of a private party to gain private records of Trump as an individual. Far more difficult questions are raised by a subpoena for someone like Don McGahn who did not appear today at the House Judiciary Committee.
As I testified last week, the current argument that Congress should be presumed to have an illegitimate or purely partisan motivation is, ironically, the same type of argument that the Trump Administration has been opposing in various courts. The Trump Administration argued that lower courts wrongly assigned a discriminatory intent in reviewing his travel ban. He also continues to argue that Congress is wrong to assume a “corrupt intent” on obstruction when non-criminal motivations were detailed in the Special Counsel Report. Yet, it is now asking the court to presume the same ill-motive in rejecting any legitimate purpose behind the exercise of oversight authority.
Judge Mehta dealt directly with the issue and came to the predicted result. The court ruled “The binding principle that emerges from these judicial decisions is that courts must presume Congress is acting in furtherance of its constitutional responsibility to legislate and must defer to congressional judgments about what Congress needs to carry out that purpose. To be sure, there are limits on Congress’s investigative authority. But those limits do not substantially constrain Congress.”
When I testified in the House Judiciary Committee there was a curious moment when Chairman Jerry Nadler asked the final question to Professor Neil Kinkopf. He stated that I have denied that the Committee could show any legitimate legislative purpose to investigate possible crimes or abuse by a sitting president and whether he agreed with me. Kinkopf responded that he vehemently disagreed with me and such a position is preposterous. As the Chairman was about to gavel an end to the hearing, I objected and asked for a chance to respond. The problem, I noted, is that my testimony stated that exact opposite as did my oral testimony over the last couple of hours. I expressly stated that Congress was likely to win on the legislative prong of the Wilkinson test. The Chair simply thanked me for the “clarification” and ended the meeting. As an academic, it was an unnerving exchange because we tend to be a tad sensitive about how our work is construed in the political melee of the Hill. That is the first time, however, that my testimony was portrayed as the complete inverse of what was submitted.
I actually like and respect Chairman Nadler a great deal and heralded his selection as Chair as a brilliant choice. I think that this was simply an ill-considered final question from staff.
For the record, this (in part) is what I said in my written testimony (and later amplified in my oral testimony):
Even on the array of demands from other committees, the purpose element is often difficult to contest without exploring the motivations of the Committee. For example, President Trump has objected that efforts to secure his tax and other records are motivated by an effort to embarrass or undermine him. Congressional investigations will often produce negative collateral consequences for witnesses that can range from job terminations to divorces to criminal charges. The Court, however, has been consistent in not treating consequences or motivations as the determinative factors. For example, in Sinclair v. United States, the Senate pursued testimony from Harry F. Sinclair who refused to answer because he was facing a criminal trial on the allegations, stating “I shall reserve any evidence I may be able to give for those courts.” His counsel objected that the Senate was trying to elicit testimony and evidence outside of the court system. The concern was a legitimate one for a criminal defense. However, it is not a legitimate objection to a subpoena, though invoking the privilege against self-incrimination would have been available absent a grant of immunity. The Court considered the collateral consequences to the trial as entirely immaterial because lawsuits or trials do not “operate to divest the Senate or the committee of power further to investigate the actual administration of the land laws.” The Court has spoken honestly about its disinclination to judge the propriety or wisdom of broad committee functions . . .
. . .
Some of us have expressed skepticism about the purpose of the subpoena fight, which will serve to delay any impeachment proceeding over a public report that was over 92 percent unredacted and a non-public report to select members that was 98 percent unredacted. However, the desire to see the full report or underlying evidence can be justified as related to the need to ascertain the evidence of criminal acts. Some of the demands of Congress (like multiple years of tax and transactional evidence) could present more challenging arguments on a legislative purpose, but the Judiciary Committee’s demand for evidence underlying the Mueller report should be viewed as squarely within a legislative purpose.
Barack Obama-appointed judge Amit P. Mehta’s 41-page opinion began by comparing President Trump’s concerns about congressional overreach to those of President James Buchanan, asserting that Trump “has taken up the fight of his predecessor.”
Judge Mehta acknowledged that the motivational and confidentiality assurances of Congress can be questioned: “[T]he court is not naïve to reality.” Indeed, he acknowledged that there “is a chance that some records obtained from Mazars will become public soon after they are produced.” Yet, he followed prior case law deferring to the oversight authority of Congress on such questions.
The Trump legal team will now be able to pursue this matter to the D.C. Circuit, though the expedited schedule given by Mehta may have surprised them. One clear desire in these challenges is delay. Just as I warned Congress last week not to make bad law with bad cases, the same is true for the Trump team. They could create poor precedent for future presidents in such appeals. As someone who favors the legislative branch in such fights, I am less aggrieved by that prospect. However, the broad array of challenges by the Trump team could come at a considerable cost is allowed to extend to the appellate courts.
106 thoughts on “Federal Judge Rules Against Trump On Subpoena For Financial Records”
“Obama lawyers cited ‘presidential communications privilege’ a variation of executive privilege.”
In an April 5, 2016 interview with the FBI, Huma Abedin was shown an email exchange between Clinton and Obama, but the longtime Clinton aide did not recognize the name of the sender.
“Once informed that the sender’s name is believed to be a pseudonym used by the president, Abedin exclaimed: ‘How is this not classified?’” the report says. “Abedin then expressed her amazement at the president’s use of a pseudonym and asked if she could have a copy of the email.”
The State Department has refused to make public that and other emails Clinton exchanged with Obama. Lawyers have cited the “presidential communications privilege,” a variation of executive privilege, in order to withhold the messages under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Well at while they’re chasing Trump, they’re not passing legislation that will make our lives more miserable.”
I believe I am not alone in wanting like to see the US return to being a functioning republic once again, with two sane parties able to pass a certain amount of bipartisan legislation. Unfortunately, losing a presidential election tends to send large numbers of rank and file members, as well as representative and senators of the losing party into Derangement Syndrome, a disease, that, like an auto-immune disorder, that tends to cause the losing party to respond to a disfavored president in a completely self-destructive way. (The test of a sane and honest Republican would be whether they can admit that a lot of their cohorts went completely nutso during the Obama years. Seriously, the behavior of a lot of Tea Party folks at some of the Obama-care town halls was simply disgraceful, though not even in the same ball park, insanity-wise, as the green-haired campus SJW loons, or criminality-wise, as the neo-totalitarians of antifa.)
The only hopes are the two people with any chance of winning: Trump, with a republican house, or (possibly) Biden, assuming he has the courage to stand up to whichever idiots in his own party survive the 2020 elections. His embarrassing, groveling #MeToo video apology immediately preceding the announcement of his presidential run, however, does not tend to make one optimistic about this.
Really, the best thing would be for the Dems to exorcise the shrieking, babyish id of its authoritarian, identitarian left wing.
I meant for this to be a response to “Independent Bob” @ 8:35 PM 5/21/19
“a lot of Tea Party folks at some of the Obama-care town halls was simply disgraceful”
Be careful with that assumption. The Tea Party folk were mostly peaceful as noted with the march on Washington I think where Glenn Beck took part. A lot of tea party events were infiltrated by Democrats, some part of the Democratic leadership, and those Democrats acted violent to blame it on the tea Party.
” those Democrats acted violent to blame it on the tea Party.”
Well, OK, if it makes you feel better, keep thinking that.
Take a look at the Glenn Beck march on Washington and how relatively peaceful and clean it was. Did you ever go to a Tea Party rally? I so happen to like to see in person how these things are. I have gone to Tea Party rallies, leftist rallies, protests etc. I even took a special trip to see the Occupy Wall Street and spent a lot of time talking to those that had rallied and protested for the night. It’s enlightening to hear what the followers have to say while the leaders hold up in a nice hotel.
Do you have proof that the Tea Party folk were riotous? If you were only looking at what the MSM media reported I understand why you believe what you do. Unfortuantely, what you believe is wrong.
Look, you’re simply not one of the sane, honest republicans I was referring to. It’s just the derangement syndrome, a common ailment. You’ll live. cheer up.
Sure Jay but derangement is not my game and most surely is yours. I’m still waiting for the proof of your fantassy. Dream on.
that a lot of their cohorts went completely nutso during the Obama years. Seriously, the behavior of a lot of Tea Party folks at some of the Obama-care town halls was simply disgraceful,
Boo hoo. They were rude to a politician.
That might be a trick since there is only one at present and it’s only a portion.
What we have is Constitutionalsts or Constitutional Republic Party or for the non affiliated the Constitutional Centrist Coalition who to their credit are ridding themselves of something called Republicans In Name Only.
We also have Progressive Socialist Party with no known non-affiliate supporters and all made up of something called Democrats in Name Ony. Also known as The Government Party they include the RINO faction. But none of them exhibit any form of or adherence to Democratic Principles.
Boil it down to What ‘is’
Constitutionalists versus Socialists or Citizens versus. Easy to tell apart one takes and upholds the oath of office and citizenship. The other does not.
The main difference that under the current law of the country known as The Constitution one group is legal, the other is not and exhibits that sort of mis behavior on a daily basis
Why are they called the Goverment Party? A firm belief in one party, one system, one set of rules that must be followed, and a preference for no franchise.]
What need when thinking, reasoning and acting as a self governing individual is forbidden.
I’ll stick with the Constitution. and res publica of, by, and for the citizens. Can’t gtet much more democratic than that.
While Turley and the court is correct on the current interpretation of what the law is.
They are not with respect to what it SHOULD be.
In fact the outcomes predicted by Turley are pretty close to the Opposite of what they should be.
The executive Branch is Constitutionally subject to congressional oversight.
Private parties ARE NOT!
Legislative intent SHOULD NOT overcome individual rights.
Congress has very limited investigative powers. Primarily with regard to impeachment where the target must be a part of government.
Congresses ability to subpeona information should be LESS that that of criminal investigators who demonstrate probable cause.
I grasp this is not the current state of understanding of the law.
I think that the court is right that intent should not matter – or at the very least the standard for demonstrating bad intent should be high. and that is also how they should be deciding the Census and similar cases. But legislative purpose should not easily trump individual rights.
I would further note that this court has essentially created an end run arround the 1924 Tax return law we have been fighting about.
Why bother to restrict congresses access to tax returns through the IRS, when they can just subpeona them directly from you or your accountant ?
Another issue with congressional subpeonas of individual information is that is certainly dances arround the intent of the constitutional prohibition against bills of attainder.
If Congress can not use its powers to legislatively target a single individual – why can it use less clear powers to interfere in their rights ?
The only appeal regarding an abuse of power by Congress is to the courts.
If the courts are prepared to allow congress to wield power short of making law however they please regarding individuals, there is little recourse.
Regardless, though broadly I do not want congress digging into the personal lives of ANYONE. More narrowly I do not want congress digging into the tax returns of ANYONE.
Didn’t we have a big enough mess in the executive during the Obama administration with IRSGATE ?
At the very least there must be severe – i.e. criminal consequences for the leaking that is pretty much inevitably going to result from this.
Here’s an idea: Don’t get yourself elected President if you don’t want Congress to subpoena your tax returns and financial statements. If, on the other hand, you simply must get yourself elected President so that you can avail yourself of the OLC opinion and Justice Dep’t regulations that claim that a sitting President cannot be indicted while in Office, then grant yourself a pardon for offenses against the United States while you’re still in office and hire an Attorney General who will redact that Presidential self-pardon on the grounds of . . . Rule 6(E) Grand Jury material as applied to an invocation of The Fifth amendment right against self-incrimination–which is, of course, exactly what a Presidential self-pardon is not.
Or is it? But, but, but . . . You couldn’t be indicted while in office. In which case, you wouldn’t ever have to invoke The Fifth while in office. And, therefore, granting yourself the Presidential self-pardon while still in office would be your only remaining recourse for exercising your individual rights. In which case, your Presidential self-pardon would have to be redacted so as to avoid any undue burden upon the performance of your duties as Chief Executive Officer of the United States. And that might as well go ahead on and be treated as though it were just as good as Rule 6(E) Grand Jury material applied to your only available substitute for an invocation of your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Contributed by The L4D–It Can Still Get A Whole Lot Crazier Than That–Project
Does the country really want to put Joe Biden and his scandal-ridden family in White House?
Will anyone in the media, or the ladies on The View, talk about Joe Biden’s son Hunter and the crack pipe found in his rental car in Arizona? Or any of his other scandals? Of course not.
Gott im Himmel.
A lot of people have kids with problems. That’s pretty normal actually.
I don’t see that as DQ for Biden
Kurtz did you think about the $1 – $1.5Billion dollar deal in China in the same time frame Biden was negotiating with China?
Hunter Biden’s entire professional life has been devoted to leveraging connections and scamming people.
Excerpted from The Mueller Report:
In light of the President’s public statements following Cohen’s guilty plea that he “decided not to do the project,” this Office again sought information from the President about whether he participated in any discussions about the project being abandoned or no longer pursued, including when he “decided not to do the project,” who he spoke to about that decision, and what motivated the decision. 1057 The Office also again asked for the timing of the President’s discussions with Cohen about Trump Tower Moscow and asked him to specify “what period of the campaign” he was involved in discussions concerning the project. 1058 In response, the President’s personal counsel declined to provide additional information from the President and stated that “the President has fully answered the questions at issue.” 1059
Trump told the same lie about The Trump Tower Moscow project in his answers to Mueller’s written questions that Cohen had told to Congress. Mueller gave Trump a chance to correct his testimony to eliminate the lie that both Trump and Cohen had told. Trump refused to correct the record and had his lawyer send a “snitty” letter to Mueller insisting that Trump had already fully answered Mueller’s question. So be it. Trump lied under oath. Surprise, surprise, surprise.
Guess what? There are transcripts out from Cohen’s late February testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that prove that Trump offered Cohen a pardon in exchange for false testimony. That’s abuse of the pardon power to suborn perjury. It’s also an Impeachable offense. It also explains why Trump had to tell the same lie that Cohen told and then refuse to correct his testimony when given a chance to do so. But most importantly, proof of Trump’s abuse of the pardon power to suborn perjury from Cohen effectively waives attorney-client privilege for the entire Trump Joint Defense Agreement Omerta. Ha-Ha!
Contributed by The L4D–If You All Close Your Eyes Nobody Will Be Able To Read The Mueller Report Except for Braille Readers–Project
Excerpted from Trump’s written answers to Mueller’s questions about The Trump Tower Moscow project:
I had few conversations with Mr. Cohen on this subject. As I recall, they were brief, and they were not memorable. I was not enthused about the proposal, and I do not recall any discussion of travel to Russia in connection with it. I do not remember discussing it with anyone else at the Trump Organization, although it is possible. I do not recall being aware at the time of any communications between Mr. Cohen or Felix Sater and any Russian government official regarding the Letter of Intent. In the course of preparing to respond to your questions, I have become aware that Mr. Cohen sent an email regarding the Letter of Intent to “Mr. Peskov” at a general, public email account, which should show there was no meaningful relationship with people in power in Russia. I understand those documents already have been provided to you.
Every sentence in the paragraph cited above is a provable lie. And we know that because Michel Cohen is currently sitting in a jail cell for, amongst other things, having told those same lies. What’s more, Trump told those lies under oath because he thought that he had to tell those lies because Trump had offered a pardon to Cohen to induce Cohen to tell those same lies. So why did Trump’s lawyers allow Trump to tell those lies under oath? Because Trump’s lawyers had also offered the pardon to Cohen to induce Cohen to tell those same lies. And that’s what waives the attorney-client privilege for the entire Trump JDA Omerta. What do you suppose Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, is going to do when Chairman Schiff puts Downing in the witness chair? And then moves on to Flynn’s lawyer and the next lawyer after that and so on and so forth until all of Trump’s abuse of the pardon power to suborn perjury and tamper with witnesses and tamper with evidence have been publicly exposed at congressional hearings? Ha-Ha! Ha-Ha! Ha!
Constributed by The L4D–What Else Did You Expect Trump To Do–Project
Excerpted from the transcript of Cohen’s late February testimony to The House Intelligence Committee:
Q Now, in your February 28th interview before this committee you mentioned that Alan Futerfas and Alan Garten, the two lawyers who were tied to The Trump Organization, were responsible for the document production that you produced to the committee in response to this committee’s May of 2017 subpoena. ls that accurate?
A That’s accurate.
Q Do you have any information about why The Trump Organization would have withheld from this committee production of the January 141h, 2016, email from you to Peskov’s office?
A I do not.
Q Same question as to the January 161h, 2016, email from you to Peskov’s office regarding Sergei lvanov?
A I also do not.
Q Same question with regards to the January 20th,2016, email from Elena Poliyakova (ph)?
A I do not
THE CHAIRMAN: Mr. Cohen, what Mr. Mitchell is asking about is you’ve testified that the members of the joint defense agreement were aware that the written testimony that you were going to give to this committee was false. Documents that would have contradicted that timeline, namely, the three that Mr. Mitchell just referenced, were not produced to this committee. ls there any insight you can shed as to who might have been involved in withholding documentary evidence that would have contradicted your written false testimony?
MR. COHEN: Again, it would be other members of the joint defense team, but specifically at The Trump Organization level.
And there’s is your tampering with evidence charge. The emails that would’ve proved that Cohen was lying to Congress way back when Ninny Na-Na Nunes was Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee had been withheld from Congress by “other members of the joint defense team at The Trump Organization” so that Congress would not know that Cohen was lying to Congress. And that gives you the waiver of attorney-client privilege for the entire Trump JDA Omerta as well, since, obviously, the lawyers were in on it, too. Capiche?
Contributed by The L4D–What Else Did You Expect Trump’s JDA Omerta To Do–Project
Actually, no it is not.
This is entirely smoke and mirrors.
First failure to provide requested evidence is NOT tampering with evidence.
Next we are not dealing with a criminal investigation – Congress can not conduct a criminal investigation.
Next, Congress can ask the courts to enforce its own subpeona’s.
Next, from the transcripts you are refering to it seems pretty clear that what Congress was asking for was subject to legal priviledge.
There is likely good reason that Congress never bothered to try to enforce the subpeona. Because it would have lost. Likely for multiple reasons.
This is not even close to the issue with Congress trying to subpeona tax records.
There was a real criminal investigation here – though that is not necescary for legal priviledge to apply.
There was a joint defense agreement – which is noted in your transcript.
That makes the priviledge apply to the entire legal team until such time as the agreement is ended, and even after the priviledge still applies to what was shared before.
This is not even a close call.
A Joint Defense Agreement is an exception to the Rule of Waiver for attorney-client privilege when parties to the attorney-client relationship have communications with parties who are other than the attorney or the client. JDAs are allowed when multiple parties have common interests at coordinating a common defense with other attorneys who have other clients. The exception to the Rule of Waiver absolutely ends when the Joint Defense Agreement ends. For instance, when Trump told the Republican members of the House Oversight Committee that Cohen and his lawyer had sought a pardon from Trump through Trump’s lawyers, Trump waived his own attorney-client privilege by sharing that information with parties outside of the Joint Defense Agreement. Moreover, Trump and his lawyers lied about that, as well. Trump offered a pardon to Cohen in exchange for Cohen’s false testimony to Congress. And that puts the crime-fraud exception in play to waive the attorney-client privilege for the entire Trump JDA Omerta.
Contributed by The L4D–Lawyers Are Not Above The Law Either–Project
House Intelligence Committee Releases Cohen Transcripts – Lawfare
1 day ago … … has released transcripts of two interviews with President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, one from February 2019 and one from March …
A lie is a false statement – not a failure to provide the answers you wish.
I would specifically not that if Trump did not talk with anyone further – which is what he has publicly claimed – then his responses to Mueller is truthful and accurate.
The fact that the answer is not what you want, does not make it a lie.
If Mueller felt he was entitled to more information – he could have gone to court and demanded it. It is probable that court would have supported that – as the court gives way to broad a lattitude to investigators.
At the same time this entire issue is completely irrelevant.
Mueller has all the communications regarding Trump Tower Moscow – and myriads of other matters. He has sifted through most everything with a fine tooth comb. He has not only looked under every rock, but pebbles and grains of sand.
Though Muellers conduct of this investigation was lawless and abusive – just as his conduct of the Richard Jewel, Steven Hatfill, and Bruce Ivens (and other) cases – Mueller has a reputation for hounding the crap out of innocent people, and being completely incapable of beleiving that anyone could be innocent of anything.
The very fact that Mueller went so far beyond what he should have been permitted, make his results all the more damning to those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.
All the whining and Spin in the Mueller report does nto change the fact that Mueller was unable to find ANYTHING despite not merely abusing the process and trying mightly to get witnesses to compose as well as sing. And not only was Mueller unable to find anything – but neither was any of the world press.
Either Trump and his campaign have demonstrated better trade craft than the FBI, CIA, NSA, GRU, KGB, … and managed to “collude” with russia without leaving any actual evidence. or you have been chasing snipes.
Trump wrote in his sworn testimony to Mueller the same thing that Cohen said to Congress. Cohen is in jail for lying to Congress when Cohen said the same thing Trump wrote to Mueller. Trump and his lawyers abused the pardon power to induce Cohen to lie to Congress. The crime fraud exception to attorney-client privilege therefore applies to the entire Trump JDA Omerta.
Contributed by The L4D–Look Who’ Back It’s Tiara Boy–Project
The Trump campaign did collude with the Russians and that has been clear from facts we have known for over a year. Mueller explicitly stated in the report that collusion was not the legal issue, criminal conspiracy was – a higher bar, and especially after several recent court rulings. The Congress and voters are not bound by that same constraint, and is now a much repeated lie that the report prioed there was no collusion.
Oh dear feckless Anon:
“The Trump campaign did collude with the Russians and that has been clear from facts we have known for over a year. ”
𝑇𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑠 𝑜𝑛 𝑚𝑦 𝑝𝑖𝑙𝑙𝑜𝑤 𝑤ℎ𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑔𝑜
𝐶𝑟𝑦 𝑚𝑒 𝑎 𝑟𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡 𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑑𝑠 𝑡𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟 𝑜𝑐𝑒𝑎𝑛
𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝑛𝑒𝑣𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑚𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝑎𝑝𝑎𝑟𝑡
𝐼𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑟𝑑𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑎 𝑏𝑟𝑜𝑘𝑒𝑛 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑟𝑡
𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 𝑒𝑚𝑜𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑡𝑎𝑘𝑒𝑛 𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟
𝐶𝑎𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑢𝑝 𝑖𝑛 𝑠𝑜𝑟𝑟𝑜𝑤, 𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑡 𝑖𝑛 𝑚𝑦 𝑠𝑜𝑢𝑙 …
Turley: “As an academic, it was an unnerving exchange because we tend to be a tad sensitive about how our work is construed in the political melee of the hill.”
What a snowflake.
I read your written testimony, so I will say it again you are a Barr apologist and a Trump enabler.
As long as you remain one get used to disapproval you deserve it.
oh turley is SO SCARED OF A SCOLDING i’m sure. pathetic! harridan
Oh, and by the way, the noose is tightening on the Obama Coup D’etat in America. That may be of some concern to lawyers, constitutional scholars, legal bloggers and America at large. You may have noticed that the co-conspirators are beginning to implicate their accomplices. Mifsud said that Halper did it and Halper said that Downer did it and Downer said that Brennan did it and Brennan said that Clapper did it and Clapper said that Comey did it and Comey said that Rosenstein did it and Rosenstein said that McCabe did it and McCabe said that Strzok did it and Strzok said that Page did it and Page said that POTUS did it.
Oops! There it is!
CONFIDENTIAL LEGAL MEMO STATES..
IRS MUST LET CONGRESS SEE TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS
A confidential Internal Revenue Service legal memo says tax returns must be given to Congress unless the president takes the rare step of asserting executive privilege, according to a copy of the memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The memo contradicts the Trump administration’s justification for denying lawmakers’ request for President Trump’s tax returns, exposing fissures in the executive branch.
Trump has refused to turn over his tax returns but has not invoked executive privilege. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has instead denied the returns by arguing there is no legislative purpose for demanding them.
But according to the IRS memo, which has not been previously reported, the disclosure of tax returns to the committee “is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns, and return information, requested by the tax-writing Chairs.”
The 10-page document says the law “does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met” and directly rejects the reason Mnuchin has cited for withholding the information.
“[T]he Secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee . . . to state a reason for the request,” it says. It adds that the “only basis the agency’s refusal to comply with a committee’s subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege.”
The agency says the memo was prepared in the fall. At the time, Democrats were making clear they probably would seek copies of Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that states that the treasury secretary “shall furnish” tax returns to Congress.
Precisely who wrote the memo and reviewed it could not be learned. The agency says IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and current chief counsel Michael Desmond, who was confirmed by the Senate in February, were not familiar with it until a Post inquiry this week. The IRS says it was never forwarded to Treasury.
The IRS memo describes how and why Congress has the authority to access tax returns, explaining the origin of the provision and how it has been interpreted over the decades.
It highlights the special powers given to three committees for compelling the release of tax returns: the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation. Other congressional committees, the memo emphasizes, do not have the same authority.
When it comes to the Ways and Means Committee, the obligation to divulge the returns “would not be affected by the failure” to give a reason for the request. By contrast, other committees “must include a purpose for their request for returns and return information when seeking access,” the memo states.
“One potential basis” for refusing the returns, the memo states, would be if the administration invoked the doctrine of executive privilege.
But the IRS memo notes that executive privilege is most often invoked to protect information, such as opinions and recommendations, submitted as part of formulating policies and decisions. It even says the law “might be read to preclude a claim of executive privilege,” meaning the law could be interpreted as saying executive privilege cannot be invoked to deny a subpoena.
Edited from: “Confidential Draft IRS Memo Say Tax Returns Must Be Given To Congress Unless President Invokes Executive Privilege”
This evening’s Washington Post
Regarding The Above:
The original article, in tonight’s Washington Post, is actually about twice as long as what I’ve posted here. But it appears that Trump could lose any legal battle to keeps his taxes secret. This, on top of yesterday’s ruling that Professor Turley featured here, could mean that Trump’s taxes and financial records could be released just in time for the 2020 Election. What effect that will have is anybody’s guess. But from the way Trump is fighting hints that he has much to hide.
i doubt it. but it will provide a lot of grist for the millstones of the wapo et al.
tax returns which reveal conclusions about complicated business operations which can be and are often misused terribly by journalists who mostly can have theirs done by HR Block
that alone is reason enough to block this if possible
i have read some incredibly false and scurrilous yellow journalism pieces on political figures throughout the years and more often then not this kind of “Tax cheat” news story is far falser than any return it’s based upon
that’s my opinion and I respect my own opinion mostly because i have been reading tax stories in the news carefully for decades and have waded through some tax beefs and complicated returns and I have some sympathy for the rights of the accused in general
but I’m just a humble small town lawyer so what do i know. not an important JOURNALIST like the muckety muck muckrakers
about the only fair stories i have ever read on tax matters come out of the Wall Street Journal
Well at while they’re chasing Trump, they’re not passing legislation that will make our lives more miserable.
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