Justice Department backs Treasury in refusal to hand over Trump's taxes

Justice Dept. issues memo backing Mnuchin’s refusal to give Trump’s tax returns to Congress

Justice Dept. issues memo backing Mnuchin’s refusal to give Trump’s tax returns to Congress

The Justice Department on Friday released its legal rationale for refusing to provide President Trump's tax returns to Congress, arguing that House Democrats want to make the documents public, which "is not a legitimate legislative objective".

"The law required Treasury to deny the request", Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel said in a 33-page memo to the committee.

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. At the time, Mnuchin said the request lacked a "legitimate legislative objective".

Trump has broken with a decades-old precedent among recent USA presidents by refusing to release his tax returns while a presidential candidate in 2016 or since being elected, saying he could not do so while his taxes were being audited.

"Because this request was delayed until April and no legal action has yet been filed to get the returns, it is certain we won't get them this year and perhaps (will face) some challenge to even get them with favorable expedited rulings by the time this Congress ends", Doggett, who chairs the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, told CNN.

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U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin testifies during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing concerning the Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget proposals, on Capitol Hill, May 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Besides Trump, every president since Richard Nixon has made his tax returns public.

A spokeswoman for the House Ways and Means Committee said the legal opinion was still being reviewed and declined to comment further.

The House Judiciary Committee voted last month to hold Barr in contempt after he failed to comply with a subpoena for an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russian Federation investigation and underlying investigative records.

After Mnuchin and Pressley's exchange in May, the Democratic congresswoman sent Mnuchin a letter on June 6 requesting that the Treasury Department send her a formal timeline of the department's redesign process by July 1.

"While the Executive Branch should accord due deference and respect to congressional requests, Treasury was not obliged to accept the committee's stated goal without question, and based on all the facts and circumstances, we agreed that the committee lacked a legitimate legislative objective for its request", Engel wrote.

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