(USA Features) Republican lawmakers led by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa ripped the Biden Justice Department for ordering IRS officials in the Treasury Department to release years’ worth of federal tax returns belonging to former President Donald Trump to a Democrat-controlled House committee.
In 2019, the DoJ under then-President Trump refused to order that his returns be given to Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, because the department felt he was being “disingenuous” in his request.
But this week, the department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) reversed that decision, alleging the panel “invoked facially valid reasons for its request.”
Grassley was among one of the first Republicans to rip the decision, however, calling it a bad “precedent.”
“The federal government closely guards private taxpayer information for a reason. It seems to me that this new opinion from the Biden Justice Department is just politics,” the veteran GOP senator said in a statement, The Epoch Times reported.
“The Office of Legal Counsel is supposed to be a source of thoughtful legal analysis, not a source of political justifications to back up partisan House investigations,” Grassley continued.
“Troublingly, this new OLC opinion contradicts its own very recent opinion,” said the Iowa Republican, who is the top GOP member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee.
He went on to note that last year, the Treasury Department’s career inspector general, Richard Delmar, affirmed that the Treasury Department was right to reject Neal’s request for Trump’s taxes.
“There’s no legitimate legislative purpose for targeting an individual’s tax information like this, even if it’s the former president,” said Grassley.
“It’s always been obvious that House Democrats wanted to get the former president’s tax returns just so they could release them to the public, and the Ways and Means Committee’s excuse about doing oversight on the presidential audit program is an obvious pretext that deserves no deference from the Treasury Department,” he continued.
“It doesn’t matter who it is, such a partisan and targeted abuse of private taxpayer information is a very dangerous precedent that will damage our country,” Grassley added.
Democrats repeatedly pressed Trump to release his tax returns before and after his election, but he rejected the requests, becoming the only president in the modern era to do so.
Other Republicans also ripped the decision.
“Whether or not you believe President Trump should have made his tax returns public, every taxpayer should be alarmed by this politically motivated Justice Department ruling,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top GOP member on the House Ways and Means Committee, noted in a statement Friday.
“Privacy should matter. Instead, this sets a dangerous precedent that weaponizes the tax code by giving Congress the dangerous power to rummage through anyone’s private tax returns for purely political reasons,” he added.
“If politicians in Congress can demand, and ultimately make public, the President’s private tax returns, what stops them from doing the same to others they view as a political enemy?” he asked.