Former President Trump received some undesirable news last week when the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ruled that Congress will be allowed to request and receive the former president’s tax returns.
According to the Washington Examiner, the decision was made in response to a request made by the House Ways and Means Committee for eight years worth of the former president’s returns.
Dawn Johnsen serves as acting assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), and she explained the move in a memo released Friday.
“We conclude that the Secretary must comply with the Ways and Means Committee’s June 16, 2021 request pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6103(f)(1) to furnish the Committee with the specified tax returns and related tax information,” she wrote.
“Serves legitimate objectives”
Johnsen went on to argue that the request “plainly serves legitimate legislative objectives, even if some individual legislators might have other reasons for wanting access to the information.”
Many conservatives have contended that those “other reasons” include creating problems for Trump in the hopes of making it more difficult for him to run for the presidency in 2024.
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady (R), the House Ways and Means Committee’s ranking Republican, blasted the DOJ’s decision as being “politically motivated.”
“If politicians in Congress can demand, and ultimately make public, the president’s private tax returns, what stops them from doing the same to others they view as a political enemy?” Brady said, according to The Washington Times.
“A dangerous precedent”
Brady added that the DOJ has set “a dangerous precedent that weaponizes the tax code by giving Congress the dangerous power to rummage through anyone’s private tax returns for purely political reasons.”
However, Democrats were quick to welcome Johnsen’s ruling, which was evidenced after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) tweeted, “Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security.”
“The American people deserve to know the facts of his conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president,” Pelosi added.
Pelosi also praised the Biden administration for having “delivered a victory for the rule as it respects the public interest” and lauded House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) for “his dignified pursuit of the truth.”