The House Draws Closer To Getting Donald Trump’s Financial Records

Law&Crime reports, House Democrats Ask Judge to Order Donald Trump to Comply With Subpoena For His Personal Financial Documents:

Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday asked a federal judge to order Donald Trump to comply with a subpoena for his personal financial information. They argue that now that Trump has left office, the former president can no longer rely on the same constitutional claims that allowed him to delay the case for more than two years.

In a motion for summary judgement (Scribd) filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, House General Counsel Douglas Letter said that because the committee’s investigation into conflicts of interest in the office of the presidency no longer impinges upon separation of power issues, Trump no longer has a viable claim to withhold the subpoenaed documents.

“While the Committee’s need for the subpoenaed information has not changed, one key fact has: Plaintiff Donald J. Trump is no longer the President,” the motion stated. “Because he is no longer the incumbent, the constitutional separation-of-powers principles that were the foundation of the Supreme Court’s recent decision are significantly diminished. Former President Trump no longer ‘alone composes a branch of government.’ He and Congress no longer have an ‘ongoing institutional relationship as the ‘opposite and rival’ political branches,’ and the Committee’s subpoena does not ‘unavoidably pit the political branches against one another.”

The high court last summer issued a 7-2 decision rejecting rejecting Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal investigations. However, the justices vacated lower court judgements on the validity of the congressional subpoenas and remanded the issues back down the chain to be reconsidered in light of the “significant separation of powers concerns” at issue. The justices called for a “balanced approach” to evaluating the validity of a subpoena directed at the president, taking into account the “legislative interests of Congress and the unique position of the President.”

The Supreme Court essentially gave President Trump a privileged status that no other American enjoys, ignoring the clear language of federal law, allowing him to engage in further delay.

As I explained in 2019 when the House Ways and Means Committee first requested Trump’s tax records, Donald Trump defies Congress and federal law for his tax returns and financial records (excerpt):

David Cay Johnston explains, Here’s the Law That Requires Mnuchin to Turn Over Trump’s Taxes, or Lose His Office and Go to Prison:

Under Section 6103 of our tax code, Treasury officials “shall” turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused, a host of former congressional tax aides tell me.

There is, however, a law requiring every federal “employee” who touches the tax system to do their duty or be removed from office.

The crystal-clear language of this law applies to Trump, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mnuchin and Rettig, federal employees all.

The law says all of them “shall” be removed from office if they fail to comply with the request from Representative Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

There are no qualifiers in Section 6103 that shield Trump from delivering, in confidence, his tax returns to Congress. No wiggle room at all.

Another provision in our tax code, Section 7214(a), provides that “Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States… who with intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title fails to perform any of the duties of his office or employment… shall be dismissed from office or discharged from employment and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.”

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The good-conduct provisions of the tax law are as broad as they are severe.  Significantly, it doesn’t just affect IRS auditors and collections officers. It applies to any federal employee—which means Trump as well as Mnuchin and Rettig—who “fails to perform any of the duties” they are assigned.

It also applies to any federal employee “who conspires or colludes with any other person to defraud the United States; or who makes opportunity for any person to defraud” the government. This provision could hit Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff and Trump’s budget director, given his reckless statements on Fox News, which some call Trump TV.

Should congressional tax lawyers, after examining Trump’s tax returns, finds that he is a tax cheat, anyone with knowledge of the cheating would also be at risk of prosecution.

The law covers official inaction, too. Anyone who “omits” his duty “shall” be removed and may be prosecuted as a felon.

Section 7214 covers anyone with “knowledge or information of the violation of any revenue law by any person, or of fraud committed by any person, against the United States [who] under any revenue law, fails to report, in writing, such knowledge or information to the” Treasury secretary.

And yet the Supreme Court came up with a questionable separation of powers argument to shield Donald Trump. Now that he is no longer president, the Court’s opinion is no longer relevant. Citizen Trump cannot prevent the production of his tax records to Congress.

Law&Crime continues:

Trump’s legal team implored the court to utilize the balancing test laid out by the Supreme Court, but Letter contended that analysis “is no longer relevant.”

“Instead, under Supreme Court precedent addressing the separation of powers as applied to former Presidents, the Court should apply a balancing test that weighs the Committee’s need for the subpoenaed documents — which is significant — against the harm to the Presidency implicated by production of a former President’s personal information — which is limited,” Letter wrote. “The Committee’s need for the subpoenaed documents to address Presidential conflicts of interest far outweighs any harm to the Office of the President or the functioning of the Executive Branch.”

A hearing in the matter is currently scheduled for June 18.

Trump’s argument is even weaker now that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has been in possession of his financial records for months now, to present to a grand jury. (On remand) Second Circuit Court of Appeals Rules In Favor of Cyrus Vance, Jr. While Vance could make Trump’s financial records available to Congress, he pledged to the Court he would not, because the records are part of a secret grand jury proceeding.

Congress needs a court to rule in its favor.