Monday May 27, 2019

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.

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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

Twitter Suspends Accounts of Anti-trump Activists

However, in a post on Facebook, the brothers denied all claims against them

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FILE - A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo. VOA

Micro-blogging site Twitter has permanently suspended accounts of two anti-Donald Trump political activists — Ed and Brian Krassenstein with 925,000 and 700,000 followers, respectively.

The Krassenstein brothers lost access to Twitter after they allegedly created and used multiple fake accounts to expand their reach.

“The Twitter Rules apply to everyone. Operating multiple fake accounts and purchasing account interactions are strictly prohibited. Engaging in these behaviours will result in permanent suspension from the service,” news website Deadline reported quoted the micro-blogging site as saying on Friday.

However, in a post on Facebook, the brothers denied all claims against them.

“If Twitter wants to ban us for having multiple accounts then that’s their right,” wrote Ed Krassenstein.

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This April 26, 2017, photo shows the Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia. VOA

“Our multiple accounts did not break any of Twitter terms, but it’s their right to ban whoever they want. What they shouldn’t be doing is smearing our names over and over again by claiming that we ‘purchased account interactions’.”

For now, the Twitter ban on the activist brothers seem permanent but it remains unclear if their strong denial could convince the micro-blogging site to lift the suspension on their accounts.

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In 2016, the Krassensteins’ Florida house was raided by federal agents suspecting their involvement in an international fraud ring. However, they claimed they had done nothing illegal and were not charged with any crime.

This is not the first instance where Twitter has been accused of banning prominent voices and earlier company CEO, Jack Dorsey, has also met with Trump to discuss his concerns, the report added. (IANS)