House Democrats on Wednesday officially asked the Internal Revenue Service to turn over the last six years of the personal tax returns of President Donald Trump, as well as tax returns for a revocable trust with the President's name, and a series of Trump family businesses, including his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
"We have completed the necessary groundwork for a request of this magnitude and I am certain we are within our legitimate legislative, legal, and oversight rights," said Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, as he sent a letter to the IRS requesting the Trump tax returns.
"This request is about policy, not politics," Neal added, as Republicans in Congress swiftly rejected that assertion.
"Weaponizing our nation’s tax code by targeting political foes sets a dangerous precedent and weakens American’s privacy rights," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, who labeled the request a 'violation of law.'
Under Section 6103(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, three committees in Congress have the power to request individual tax returns.
That section of the IRS code states the following:
"Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request."
At the White House, President Trump was asked in an evening photo op about the request, and he responded as he has to previous questions about his tax returns, saying he can't release them in part because his returns are under IRS audit.
"I'm always under audit, it seems, but I've been under audit for many years because the numbers are big, and I guess when you have a name, you're audited," Mr. Trump said to reporters, as he indicated he would not turn over his returns to the Congress.
"But until such time as I'm not under audit, I would not be inclined to do it."
Among Democrats in Congress, there was a burst of praise for the request for the personal and business tax returns.
"Federal law is clear that our Chairman has the legal authority to request and receive these returns and the Administration has no legal basis to refuse to comply with this request," said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA).
"The American people deserve to know that their elected officials are acting in the public’s best interest, not their own self-interest," said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI).
It was not immediately apparent if the IRS would comply - or, if the President would raise an objection.