The U.S. Justice Department on Friday ordered the Internal Revenue Service to hand over former President Donald Trump's tax returns to a House of Representatives committee, saying the panel has offered "sufficient reasons" for requesting the material.
The department's Office of Legal Counsel reversed course and declared that the department erred in 2019 when Trump was still in office when it found that the request for his taxes by the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee was based on a "disingenuous" objective aimed at exposing them to the public.
"We cannot know where receipt of the requested tax information will take the committee, any more than the committee itself can predict what it will find or determine," wrote Acting Assistant Attorney General Dawn Johnsen for the Office of Legal Counsel.
However, Johnsen noted, "the respect due a co-equal branch of government requires that we presume the Committee will handle the tax information it receives with sensitivity to taxpayer privacy concerns."
House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who brought the suit in July 2019, told CNN in a statement:
"As I have maintained for years, the Committee's case is very strong and the law is on our side. I am glad that the Department of Justice agrees and that we can move forward."
Unlike other recent presidents, Trump did not publicly disclose his tax returns.
A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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