Some congressional Democrats and liberal critics are concerned the Biden administration, with its vow to keep from using the Justice Department to investigate controversies from the last administration, will keep them from getting their hands on former President Donald Trump's long-sought tax returns.
The policy is "a return to business as usual for DOJ — and not DOJ swinging as frantically to an anti-Trump agenda as it did to the pro-Trump one that I and many other observers abhorred," said Norm Eisen, a former Obama administration ethics official and House Judiciary Committee consultant, commented to CNN, where he is now an analyst. "They're going to act with that same independence in defense of what they perceive to be in the long-term interests of the executive branch."
Under Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Justice Department has often favored protecting the executive branch's powers, and at times, that's meant helping to keep Trump's documents and decisions a secret.
The Biden administration has taken some actions against the Trump era, however. Federal agents in late April served his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, with search warrants, and Democrats have been able to get some documents that were related to Trump's Washington, D.C., hotel lease.
This Friday, House Democrats will interview ex-White House counsel Don McGahn as well. House Judiciary Committee sought the interview after McGahn ignored its subpoena in 2019.
The Trump Justice Department defended McGahn in court, and the Biden Justice Department and the House reached an agreement last month for McGahn's closed-door talks. A transcript is to be released after his interview.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration controls three high-profile documents central to the Democrats' court fights, including Trump's tax returns that are being held by the Internal Revenue Service, grand jury material concerning the Russia investigation, and the internal memo to former Attorney General William Barr justifying why Trump was not charged in former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe. The House Democrats are also still seeking subpoenas to one of Trump's banks and for his accounting firm.
But the tax documents have been sought for years after Trump refused to turn them over back in 2015 when he first became a presidential candidate.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent a formal request to the Treasury Department for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns in 2019 when Democrats won control of Congress but told CNN in May that he's still pursuing the case.
Sources close to him say the House hopes for a resolution from the Biden administration, but are concerned the matter will drag on.
Meanwhile, the Trump tax returns aren't completely locked up, as the Manhattan district attorney was able to obtain them earlier this year through a lawsuit.
House committees that have been investigating Trump say they'll keep pursuing cases that are still in court, arguing that the cases are important to assert the power of Congress to subpoena the executive branch.
In addition, the information obtained through committee investigations could be relevant with Trump flirting with a 2024 campaign, reports CNN.
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