By NICHOLAS FANDOS
A Democratic House chairman on Saturday castigated the Treasury Department for failing to meet his deadline to furnish President Trump’s tax returns, arguing that the administration’s apparent concerns over his use of powers outlined in the Internal Revenue Service’s tax code “lack merit.”
The chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, set a new deadline for compliance, April 23, and warned that if the Trump administration did not reply by then, its “failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request.”
The tone of Mr. Neal’s letter suggested Democrats are prepared to take their request — made through a little-known provision in the federal tax code — to court if necessary, initiating what could be a protracted legal fight over Congress’s oversight powers. In it, he cited legal precedent that he argued clearly showed the law is on the committee’s side, and said that the executive branch had no right to “second guess” its motivations.
[Read the letter here.]
“I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding my request and the authority of the committee,” Mr. Neal wrote. “Those concerns lack merit. Moreover, judicial precedent commands that none of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the committee’s request.”
Anticipating an increasingly likely legal fight over the Ways and Means action, House Democrats were also taking steps to open a side door into Mr. Trump’s finances. Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, informed Republicans on Friday that he intended to issue a subpoena in the coming days to compel Mazars USA, an accounting company tied to the president, to turn over relevant financial records in its possession.
Republicans balked at the request, calling it an “astonishing abuse” of the committee’s powers. But Mr. Cummings said he had the authority to investigate potential wrongdoing by Mr. Trump and testimony from Michael D. Cohen, his longtime fixer, that the president had intentionally misrepresented his assets and liabilities to suit his needs at a given moment.
“The committee has full authority to investigate whether the president may have engaged in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office, to determine whether he has undisclosed conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions, to assess whether he is complying with the…