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Another Lawless Democrat Attack On Trump Fails - Temporarily

Trump tax returns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our friends at NewsMax alerted us to another Trump victory over his Far-Left Democrat harassers as the federal appeals court in Washington ruled President Donald Trump’s tax returns, which he has refused to make public, can’t be obtained by a non-profit organization using the Freedom of Information Act.

The information is shielded by a taxpayer privacy law passed after President Richard Nixon tried to use the Internal Revenue Service to harass his political enemies, Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson said in an opinion released Tuesday, upholding a lower-court ruling against a FOIA request by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

With “certain limited exceptions” contained in the law, “no one can demand to inspect another’s tax records,” Henderson wrote, for a unanimous three-judge panel of the court.

However, as POLITICO reported soon after the November midterms gave them the majority in the House, Democrats have said they’d use special powers enjoyed by the leaders of congressional tax committees to get the documents.

The President has steadfastly maintained he wouldn’t release his taxes while he’s under audit. But under the law, he may not have a choice about whether Democrats obtain them.

"There’s ample justification” for the Ways and Means Committee to go after Trump’s personal and business tax returns, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the panel's No. 4 Democrat, said back in November. “We need to act on this promptly.”

But the maneuver doesn’t come without some political risks for Democrats — and actually getting and dealing with the president’s returns may be a harder and slower process than they realize, wrote POLITICO’s Brian Faler.

Mr. Faler says a 1924 law allows the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee to examine anyone’s tax returns in private, without their permission, and the likely incoming chairman, Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, has said he’d go after Trump’s IRS filings. The law allows him to share the material in private with other lawmakers on the panel and their staff.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer, has said he’d urge Trump to fight the request, reported Faler. But it’s unclear how that would play out if it went to court. The law stipulates the Treasury secretary “shall” turn over “any return or return information” requested by the heads of Congress’ tax committees, or its nonpartisan tax advisory office, the Joint Committee on Taxation. “Secretary Mnuchin will review any request with the Treasury general counsel for legality,” an agency spokesperson said Wednesday.

As Brian Faler observed for POLITICO, it’s a felony to improperly disclose tax information, punishable up to five years in prison — one reason why tax returns rarely leak. Some warn Democrats will have to be careful handling Trump’s returns. They would likely examine them in private for some time, while they try to understand Trump’s finances, before releasing anything to the public. During that time, if Democrats answer a reporters’ question, for example, in a way that reflects something they’ve learned from his return, they could find themselves in legal jeopardy.

However, while it is highly unusual, Democrats could vote to make the information public wrote Faler. A few years ago, Republicans voted to make private tax information about nonprofit groups public, though not individual taxpayers’ returns, as part of an investigation into the IRS. Before that, Congress [run by Democrats of course] made public President Richard Nixon’s tax information after questions about whether he had underpaid his taxes.

What’s more, if the White House orders Treasury to refuse to release President Trump’s returns, it would force the Democrats to go to court to obtain the returns. That could potentially take years, and Faler says some predict the administration will happily tie up the issue in court if only to delay the disclosure.

So, what would be the consequences if the Democrats pry loose President Trump’s tax returns and do a deep dive into them?

Brian Faler reports It didn’t go well for Nixon when the Joint Committee on Taxation audited his returns at lawmakers’ request in 1974. It took JCT four months to produce a report on Nixon’s taxes that ran almost 1,000 pages — and determined that he owed almost $500,000, which amounted to half his net worth at the time.

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