WASHINGTON — A Democratic-led House committee is now in possession of six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns after a multi-year court fight.
The Treasury Department said Wednesday it had complied with last week’s Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for the returns to be turned over to the House Ways and Means Committee.
The panel did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CNN first reported that the committee had received the tax returns.
Earlier in the day, committee chairman Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts, evaded questions from reporters on Capitol Hill when asked if his panel had obtained Trump’s tax records.
“I hope I’m done with this,” he said when asked for an update, noting that he was legally bound not to reveal too much information. “That’s the best answer I can give you… I’ll have better answers [after meeting] with the lawyers.
It’s unclear what Neal and House Democrats plan to do with the documents, especially as they face a GOP takeover of the House in January. Republicans have made it clear that they are not interested in or concerned about Trump’s tax records.
“I can’t talk about it,” Neal said when asked what the next steps are.
Rep. Bill Pascrell, DN.J., a member of the Ways and Means Committee and an early advocate of pushing for Trump’s tax returns, told NBC News on Wednesday that the panel “will make a deliberative decision [on Trump’s tax records] by January 3,” when Republicans officially take control of the chamber.
Asked if he would consider making the tax returns public, Pascrell said: “I would.”
The records transfer comes shortly after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s last-minute request to block the release of his tax records to House Democrats, just weeks before Republicans won a majority.
Earlier this month, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the ways and means panel from accessing Trump’s tax records while the court decided how to act on the former president’s request.
Unlike other recent presidents, Trump has refused to release his tax returns amid scrutiny of his business affairs, repeatedly claiming he is being audited by the IRS. Democrats have been demanding to see the records since the 2016 presidential campaign.
But the legal battle began in April 2019, shortly after the Democrats took control of the House, when Neal asked for statements from Trump and related business entities. The Democratic president said he sought the information as part of the committee’s investigations into whether to amend the tax law relating to presidents.
The Treasury Department during the Trump presidency refused to comply with Neal’s request, saying in May 2019 that it had no valid legislative purpose for obtaining the documents. The committee filed suit two months later in what would become a long battle to secure the returns.
For years, top tax analysts have said the records should be turned over to Congress because under federal law, if tax returns are formally requested by the chairmen of the Ways and Means panel, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation of a person, Treasury Department officials “shall” turn over the documents.
sahil kapur contributed.