News Bits

Ken AshfordCongress, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment


From the Washington Post:

House Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration seeking access to President Trump’s tax returns.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed the lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department after months of feuding with the Trump administration over the returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who have denied Democrats’ demands for the returns, are named as defendants.

“Defendants have mounted an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS, and the tax laws on behalf of the American people who participate in the Nation’s voluntary tax system,” the lawsuit states.

Mnuchin in May rejected a subpoena issued by Democrats on the committee. That rejection pushed Neal to seek a court battle that legal experts say might go all the way to the Supreme Court, given the central questions it poses about the scope of Congress’s ability to oversee the White House.

The move also intensifies the conflict over a range of oversight questions between Congress and the Trump administration, which has invoked privilege and sought to stonewall Democratic lawmakers’ investigations.

“This is a big deal that goes to the core of our government’s checks and balances, and could for many years shape the relationship between the executive and legislative branches,” said Steven Rosenthal, a legal expert at the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.

I get that legislators are slow, but two years into his presidency, and we still don’t have his tax returns? What is up with that?

(2) Um….

Those last one is from Voice of America news – a Trump outlet, so keep that in mind.


I suspect this might have something to do with what’s going on with Russian sub. (Oh, and the Pease Air Force thing is a shooter. The all clear has been given.)

UPDATE – Next day:

Why did Mike Pence’s abrupt turnaround and retreat to Washington yesterday seem like such an emergency? As CNN reports, that’s not hard to explain. Pence was supposed to be heading for a speech in New Hampshire when his spokesman stepped to the microphone to inform those waiting there that “I do have some bad news at this point. Air Force Two was headed this way, there’s been an emergency.”

And with that, Pence retreated to Washington. Or he never left Washington. Or—even that part of the story isn’t clear.

Since then, the reason for Pence’s Retreat has turned from a momentary puzzle into an ongoing head-scratcher. Did someone worry that the burning Russian submarine was part of a Red October scenario that might require Pence, and Mother, to be present in the war room? Did Donald Trump just decide that he didn’t like the idea of Pence being in New Hampshire on his own in advance of the 2020 election? Was there a scare involving a chicken nugget passing down the royal gullet in the wrong way?

The failure of the White House to provide any kind of answer—except that it might be “weeks” before there was an answer—only served to turn this event from a “huh” to a minor obsession that has run behind every administration story overnight. A flurry of tweets from Trump’s account with suspiciously good spelling didn’t help.

Pence’s office has declared that the emergency rewrite of the schedule had nothing to do with Pence’s health. Nothing to do with Trump’s health. Nothing to do with national security. In fact, they’ve declared that this “emergency” was “no cause for alarm.” Which seems to represent a sort of … definitional problem. As that staffer in New Hampshire put it, “We’ll just ask that you all calmly go ahead and have all of you leave the room.”
Making things even more mysterious is Pence’s official schedule for Wednesday. Which contains nothing. Nothing at all.