House panel chairman prefers court fight to contempt charge over Trump tax returns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Neal, said on Friday he would rather go to court than pursue contempt charges over the Trump administration’s refusal to hand over the president’s tax returns. Neal issued subpoenas last week to the U.S. Treasury Secretary and the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service seeking six years of Trump’s individual and business tax returns, but they appear unlikely to provide the documents before a 5 p.m. (2100 GMT) deadline on Friday. Asked whether he was considering pursuing contempt charges against administration officials, Neal said in an interview with CNN: “I don’t see what good it would do at this particular time. I think that if both sides have made up their minds, better to move it over to the next branch of government: the judiciary.” Democrats want the documents as part of an inquiry into the president’s possible conflicts of interests as he continues to have sprawling business interests even during his tenure as president. As the chairman of the powerful tax committee, Neal is the only lawmaker in the House authorized to request the president’s tax returns. Trump’s administration is stonewalling investigations led by Neal and five other Democratic committee chairs.

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