A personal attorney for president Trump urged the Treasury Department to reject a request from House Democrats for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns on Friday, saying it raised constitutional concerns.
“If the IRS acquiesces to Chairman Neal’s request, it would set a dangerous precedent,” reads the letter, addressed to Treasury Department General Counsel William McIntosh. “Once this Pandora’s box is opened, the ensuing tit-for-tat will do lasting damage to our nation.”
Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) requested the returns, as well as IRS work product relating to them, on Wednesday.
The attorney, William Consovoy, argues that Congress has no “legitimate committee purpose” in requesting Trump’s returns.
“His request is a transparent effort by one political party to harass an official from the other party because they dislike his politics and speech,” Consovoy writes in the letter.
Neal has spent months attempting to ground the request in Congressional precedent in advance of litigation anticipated to emerge after the request’s expected refusal, an outcome that appears all the more likely after Consovoy’s letter. Specifically, in the April 3 request to the IRS for Trump’s tax returns, Neal wrote that he was seeking them as part of an effort to oversee the IRS in its job of auditing the president — an inherent conflict of interest in which the agency is obligated to audit its boss.
Consovoy, who also dismissed Neal’s rational as “pretextual,” calling it “unconstitutional retaliation against the President.”
In 1974, the Joint Committee on Taxation received Richard Nixon’s returns as part of an investigation into whether the IRS was giving the president unwarranted favor in its audits of his returns. Then, the committee found that Nixon owed an additional half a million dollars in back taxes.
Consovoy has served as Trump’s personal attorney before. He also represented Trump in his personal capacity in an emoluments lawsuit brought by the attorneys general for Maryland and D.C.