It only took House Democrats six months to make good on one of their campaign promises, but after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made it clear he wouldn’t comply with requests for President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the Democrats are reportedly finally suing for them.
The Washington Post reports that the House Ways and Means committee, led by Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, filed a lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday in federal court, nearly two months after Mnuchin flatly rejected a subpoena from the House for the returns, saying there wasn’t a “legitimate legislative purpose” to obtain them. Democrats say that the returns could show evidence of potential conflicts of interest.
While Democrats said in 2018 that Trump’s taxes were fair game if they took control of Congress, it took Neal until April to make the request in the first place. Per HuffPost, which noted the Democrats’ lack of urgency to get the returns yesterday:
If he’d wanted to, Neal could have made the request on Jan. 3, issued a subpoena as soon as the Trump administration said no, and then filed suit in federal court a week later, according to Jeff Hauser, director of the Revolving Door Project, an anti-corruption initiative of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.
“If there were any sense of urgency we would have been where we are now by the middle of January,” Hauser said.
Consequently, Neal has come under fire from liberals like megadonor Tom Steyer and groups like Stand Up America, which recently said it would target voters in Neal’s district to push him to sue for the returns.
In 2016, Trump broke precedent by becoming the first major party presidential nominee since Gerald Ford not to release his tax returns, and he’s since argued that he doesn’t have to because he won the election. Back in April, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said that the Democrats will “never” see Trump’s tax returns, “nor should they.”
This is just the beginning of the battle; Trump has reportedly told advisers he’s prepared to take this legal fight all the way to the Supreme Court. At the very least, we’re one step closer to finding out if he’s right.