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Democrats cite Richard Nixon in effort to obtain Donald Trump’s tax returns

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House Democrats released historical documents Thursday showing their attempt to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns has precedent.

According to a statement from committee chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., the House Ways and Means Committee voted to publish documents from the early 1970s showing how when members of the Joint Committee on Taxation used their authority to request President Richard Nixon’s tax information, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) immediately complied with the request.

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The Ways and Means panel has cited the same tax disclosure law — Section 6103 of the federal tax code — in an effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns.  The law says the IRS “shall furnish” the returns of any taxpayer to the chairmen of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation for legitimate legislative purpose.

Nixon had voluntarily disclosed his returns from 1969-1972. The Joint Committee on Taxation sought — and received — additional tax information from the IRS from 1963-1968.

Neal initially made the request for Trump’s personal and business tax returns, as well as documents related to any audits, on April 3. After a series of letters between the panel and the administration, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin formally rejected the request at the beginning of May, arguing that it represented an unprecedented abuse of power. Neal issued subpoenas to the IRS and Treasury Department on May 10.

Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, has fought to protect the president’s financial information from public disclosure, arguing the request to turn over his returns would create a dangerous precedent.

“History demonstrates that private tax return information is susceptible to abuse for partisan purposes ― regardless of which party is in power,” Mnuchin said in an April 23 letter. “Unless carefully restrained by law, this risk threatens the privacy of all taxpayers.”

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Democrats, meanwhile, have argued the power for lawmakers to seek the returns is written explicitly in a 1924 law. They have also argued they need to see the president’s returns to ensure the IRS was conducting audits properly.

Mnuchin argued at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in May the tax scuffle was “a very important issue that has a precedent way beyond any one president and Congress.”

“There is a difference in interpretation between Congress and the Department of Justice around this law that not only impacts this president and this Congress but has a very big impact on every single taxpayer in weaponizing the IRS,” Mnuchin said at the time. “And this is why there are three branches of government.”

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He also said Congress did not need to see the president’s tax returns to ensure the IRS was fairly enforcing the law.

“Congress has a legitimate interest to make sure that the IRS is performing the function properly as it relates to any taxpayer,” Mnuchin said. “This is a very important issue that has a precedent way beyond any one president.”

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Democrats have been on a hunt for Trump’s tax returns since he bucked decades of tradition when he refused to release them during the 2016 election cycle.

Although not required by law, every major party presidential nominee since the 1970s has chosen to publicly release his or her tax returns except for Gerald Ford, who only released a summary. Financial disclosures can help paint a fuller picture of a candidate’s business positions and interests by providing information about financial dealings, such as investments, donations, business relationships, assets and possible conflicts of interests.

Trump has made clear he does not want to turn over his tax returns, claiming he cannot disclose them as a result of being audited by the IRS. However, an audit does not prevent a taxpayer from releasing his or her own tax documents. The administration has indicated it plans to fight congressional requests for information about the president’s finances.

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Republican staffer caught spying on Democrats during Judiciary Committee meetings

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A Republican staffer from the Ways and Means committee was caught spying on Democrats during their work over the weekend.

According to a Judiciary Committee source, the female staffer was ultimately discovered and ran out of the committee room once it was discovered she was there, tweeted Olivia Beavers, a writer at "The Hill."

"A Judiciary source says the committee, which has been practicing for their Monday impeachment hearing this whole weekend, came across a female GOP Ways and Means staffer in the hearing room today, but that she ran out once discovered," she tweeted.

https://twitter.com/Olivia_Beavers/status/1203784487559213056

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New York Times editorial board asks Trump if he didn’t do anything wrong — why he won’t let witnesses testify

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The New York Times editorial board issued a scathing op-ed Sunday detailing the ways in which President Donald Trump is destroying one of the key branches of the United States government.

While many presidents battle with Congress, Trump has taken his "obvious contempt" to a whole new level. But if he was truly innocent of the accusations he's facing, then why is he hiding so much.

"If Mr. Trump is so clear in his own mind that he didn’t try to pressure the Ukrainian government to interfere in the 2020 election, why won’t he send the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, to testify under oath that there was no quid pro quo?" asked The Times. "Instead, he has issued a blanket refusal to allow officials of his administration to testify or submit documents demanded by Congress. His approach is pitting Republican House members’ fealty to him against their respect for their own institution. They are making a fateful choice to diminish the House."

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Trump busted for acting like the Saudi’s ‘press secretary’ after Florida naval yard shooting

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Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot blasted President Donald Trump for essentially becoming a "press secretary" for the Saudi Arabian government in wake of the Pensacola, Florida mass shooting.

In his column Sunday, Boot noted that the typical mass shooting sentiments like "thoughts and prayers" were absent Friday when Trump discovered that the shooting was done by a Muslim.

"It turns out that Trump actually has a triple standard, because he treats attacks by Saudis differently than those from other Muslim nations," Boot observed. "On Friday, a Saudi air force officer studying at the Naval Air Station Pensacola shot dead three Americans and wounded eight others. Instead of expressing outrage or vowing vengeance, or even waiting for all the facts to come in, Trump sounded as if he were auditioning for the job of press secretary at the Saudi Embassy."

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