House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has successfully urged the Treasury Department's inspector general to investigate the department after it failed to hand over President Donald Trump's tax returns to his committee.
What's the background?
Democrats have been wanting to see Trump's tax returns since before he was elected in 2016. Since then, there have been several attempts — all so far unsuccessful — by Democratic members of Congress to get Trump or the U.S. government to turn over the returns. Trump has repeatedly claimed that he cannot turn over his tax returns because he is under audit.
Neal is currently suing for six years' worth of returns.
In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Neal said "the committee had received an unsolicited communication from a Federal employee setting forth credible allegations."
This unidentified federal employee claimed to be aware of "inappropriate efforts to influence" the program in the IRS that audits the tax returns for incoming presidents. Neal said that he needed to view the tax returns to make sure that this IRS program was doing its job properly.
What happened now?
On Monday, Neal sent a letter to acting Treasury Department Inspector General Richard K. Delmar, asking him to "assist the Committee on Ways and Means in investigating Treasury's actions concerning the mandatory audit program. ... I want to be assured that Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS"), is enforcing the law in a fair and impartial manner and no one is endeavoring to intimidate or impede government officials and employees carrying out their duties."
On Friday, the New York Times reported that Delmar had agreed to investigate how this matter was handled.
"Chairman Neal has asked Treasury OIG to inquire into the process by which the Department received, evaluated, and responded to the Committee's request for federal tax information," Delmar said in a statement, according to CNN. "We are undertaking that inquiry."