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Neal defends go-slow approach to seeking Trump's tax returns

January 24, 2019
In The News

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal today defended his go-slow approach to demanding President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

Under pressure from some liberal groups unhappy he hasn’t acted more quickly, Neal (D-Mass.) said: “You’re going to have to, I think, resist the emotion of the moment and make sure your case is carefully documented.”


Neal declined to say when he might request the returns.“This is likely to become the basis of a long and arduous court case,” he told reporters. “You can’t step on your tongue.”

Tax March and other organizations released a letter addressed to Neal on Thursday complaining he is not moving fast enough to take advantage of a rarely used law allowing the heads of Congress’ tax committees to examine anyone’s returns. They want him to use that law to unmask Trump’s returns, which the president has refused to disclose.

The administration is likely to fight Neal in court. Trump has an incentive to tie up the issue in the legal system, perhaps in hopes Republicans retake the House in 2020.

Even if Democrats do lay hands on the returns, experts say handling the information would be trickier than it appears. Improperly disclosing confidential tax information is a felony, and lawmakers could find themselves in legal jeopardy if they don’t follow strict rules.

“This has to be part of a carefully prepared and documented legal case,” said Neal. “It will be done judiciously and methodically, but it will be done.”