House Democrats’ resolution to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn in contempt will include language that could grease the skids for Democrats’ coming lawsuit to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
It will include provisions designed to clarify House rules that a group of party leaders known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which is comprised of the five top House leaders, may authorize lawsuits, a Democratic aide said, something that’s been in dispute among legal experts.
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Democrats plan to sue to enforce a subpoena for Trump’s tax records that the administration has denied, though lawmakers need to first authorize the suit. That could be done with a vote by the entire House, though it would be quicker to have BLAG handle it. Some experts, however, have questioned whether that’s allowed under the chamber’s rules.
Democrats have not decided how they intend to proceed when it comes to authorizing the suit, an aide said.
Democrats are demanding six year’s worth of Trump’s personal and some of his business records under a 1924 law allowing the heads of Congress’s tax committees to examine anyone’s private filings. The administration has rejected the subpoena, saying Democrats do not have a legitimate legislative reason for seeking the filings.
House Democrats plan to vote on the contempt resolution next Tuesday. Once either BLAG or the entire House gives the OK, the chamber’s general counsel, Douglas Letter, is expected to file suit on Democrats’ behalf for Trump’s returns.
Separately, Sen. Ron Wyden released a letter Tuesday to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig demanding to know whom at the agency had seen a draft memo leaked last month obtained by the Washington Post saying the administration must hand over Trump’s filings unless he invokes executive privilege.
“Congress needs to investigate to know whether Trump appointees have engaged in a cover up to conceal political interference inside the IRS,” Wyden said in a statement. “Career IRS officials prepared a legal analysis stating that the agency was required to provide the returns, and it was buried. We need to know who saw this memo and when.”