The Department of Justice said Friday the Treasury Department was correct by not providing lawmakers with President Donald Trump’s tax returns because doing so would have violated federal law.
In a memorandum, Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel wrote to the Treasury that the House Ways and Means Committee was not entitled to see Trump’s returns.
Federal law “protecting confidentiality of tax returns prohibited the Department of the Treasury from complying with a request by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for the president’s tax returns,” Engel wrote.
Engel leads the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel, a group within the department that offers legal opinions.
“While the Executive Branch should accord due deference and respect to congressional requests, Treasury was not obliged to accept the committee’s stated purpose without question, and based on all the facts and circumstances, we agreed that the committee lacked a legitimate legislative purpose for its request,” Engel wrote.
The original request came from committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. Democrats are trying to take a close look at Trump’s background as they seek to determine whether he has broken the law.
Trump was cleared of conspiring with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, while Attorney General William Barr said there was insufficient evidence to pursue a case involving obstruction of justice against Trump. Still, some Democrats believe Trump tried to obstruct the nearly two-year Russia investigation.
Material from Reuters was used in this report.