Friday February 21, 2020

House Democrat Issues Subpoenas for U.S. President Donald Trump Tax Returns

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., who is demanding President Donald Trump's tax returns for six years, is joined at right by Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., at a hearing on taxpayer noncompliance on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 9, 2019. VOA

A top House Democrat on Friday issued subpoenas for six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, giving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a deadline of next Friday to deliver them.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., issued the subpoenas days after Mnuchin refused to comply with demands to turn over Trump’s returns. Mnuchin told the panel he wouldn’t provide Trump’s tax records because the panel’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” as Supreme Court precedent requires.

Neal reminded the two Trump appointees in a Friday letter that federal law states that the Internal Revenue Service “shall furnish” the tax returns of any individual upon the request of the chairmen of Congress’ tax-writing committees and that Ways and Means “has never been denied” a request.

Donald Trump
Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April. VOA

Refusals to comply

The White House and the Democratic-controlled House are waging a multifront battle over investigations into Trump, and the administration has been refusing to comply across the board — refusing to comply with subpoenas for the unredacted report by special counsel Robert Mueller and documents related to the testimony by former White House counsel Donald McGahn.

Neal originally demanded access to Trump’s tax returns in early April. He maintains that the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of tax returns of all sitting presidents, a way to justify his claim that the panel has a potential legislative purpose. Democrats are confident in their legal justification and say Trump is stalling in an attempt to punt the issue past the 2020 election.

FILE - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee, April 9, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee, April 9, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

In rejecting the request earlier, Mnuchin said he relied on the advice of the Justice Department. He concluded that the Treasury Department is “not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.” Mnuchin has also said that Neal’s request would potentially weaponize private tax returns for political purposes.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” Neal said in a statement.

President won’t budge

Trump has privately made clear he has no intention of turning over the records. He is the first president since Watergate scandal of Richard Nixon’s presidency to decline to make his tax returns public, often claiming that he would release them if he were not under audit.

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“What’s unprecedented is this secretary refusing to comply with our lawful … request. What’s unprecedented is a Justice Department that again sees its role as being bodyguard to the executive and not the rule of law,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. “What’s unprecedented is an entire federal government working in concert to shield a corrupt president from legal accountability.”

But the president has told those close to him that the attempt to get his returns was an invasion of his privacy and a further example of what he calls the Democrat-led “witch hunt” — like Mueller’s Russia probe — meant to damage him. (VOA)

Next Story

Social Media Giant Facebook Rebuts Soros, Says no ‘Special Relationship’ with Trump

Facebook has announced it will show fewer political ads to people on its platform and Instagram, starting with the US which faces Presidential elections this year, but won't ban or limit those as Twitter has already done and Google to some extent

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Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Facebook has refuted allegations by billionaire philanthropist George Soros that there is a special relationship between the social networking giant and US President Donald Trump.

Soros slammed Facebook at Davos last month, accusing the social networking giant of helping to re-elect Trump in the 2020 US election.

“While we respect Mr. Soros’ right to voice his opinion, he’s wrong,” Facebook said in a statement.

“The notion that we are aligned with any one political figure or party runs counter to our values and the facts. We continue making unprecedented investments to keep our platform safe, fight foreign interference in elections around the world, and combat misinformation,” Facebook said.

Soros reiterated his comments in an opinion piece in The New York Times on Friday.

“Facebook will help President Trump to get re-elected and Mr. Trump will, in turn, defend Facebook against attacks from regulators and the media,” he alleged.

“Facebook will work to re-elect Trump and Trump will protect Facebook,” the 89-year-old said during a speech at a dinner hosted by his non-profit Open Society Foundation at Davos.

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FILE – President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, Nov. 4, 2019. VOA

“It makes me very concerned about the outcome of 2020,” Soros added.

Earlier in January, Facebook Vice President Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth claimed that it was the social networking giant that got Donald Trump elected as the US President in 2016 because “he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser”.

In a memo obtained by The New York Times, the key Facebook executive in the same vein suggested that the platform with over 2.45 billion monthly active users should not use its enormous reach to block Trump’s re-election in 2020.

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“He (Trump) didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period”, said Bosworth who runs Facebook’s hardware group.

“Trump just did unbelievable work,” Bosworth wrote.

Facebook has announced it will show fewer political ads to people on its platform and Instagram, starting with the US which faces Presidential elections this year, but won’t ban or limit those as Twitter has already done and Google to some extent. (IANS)