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Pres. Trump can't withhold tax returns from Congress without asserting executive privilege, IRS memo draft argues

The memo is not official, the IRS said

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A confidential draft of a memo allegedly written by an Internal Revenue Service lawyer, obtained by The Washington Post, argues that President Donald Trump can only withhold his tax returns from Congress by asserting executive privilege.

The memo is titled "Congressional Access to Returns and Return Information," and the IRS said it was written by a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel. Because it was just a draft, it was never signed nor does it represent an official position by the agency.

"The IRS discloses returns and returns information when authorized or required by section 6103," the memo reads. "Congress in its oversight and investigative role could seek to compel by subpoena a refusal to disclose returns or return information requested. The only basis for the agency's refusal to comply with a committee's subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege."

According to the IRS, the memo was created last fall while Democrats, who had not yet taken control of the House, were plotting how to use a 1924 law to force the IRS to hand over Pres. Trump's returns.

While the president is refusing provide his tax returns to Congress, he has not invoked executive privilege to support his position. Instead, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has argued that Congress does not have a legitimate legislative purpose for seeking the returns.

Executive privilege, as defined by Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute, is "the privilege that allows the president and other high officials of the executive branch to keep certain communications private if disclosing those communications would disrupt the functions or decision-making processes of the executive branch."

An Obama-appointed judge ruled Monday that Pres. Trump's accounting firm must turn over the president's financial records to Congress. Pres. Trump has called the ruling "crazy" and intends to appeal.

One last thing…
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