It was the first time Congress had ever obtained and released the federal tax returns of a private individual. Democrats claimed that they needed the returns as they considered future tax legislation. But the former president argued in court — to no avail — that Democrats were overstepping the separation of powers.
On Friday, the committee released six years of Trump’s returns, from 2015 through 2020. While they revealed little that was noteworthy, other than some debatable deductions, Republicans warned that Democrats had set a dangerous precedent that would allow Congress to abuse its power to punish any political opponents.
In a separate, 17-page minority report, the dissenting Republican minority pointed out that Democrats admitted they had no legislative purpose for releasing Trump’s taxes.
Most importantly, the Committee Majority’s action set a dangerous new precedent. It is apparent from the proceedings that the Committee Majority set out with the goal of obtaining and publishing the former President’s full tax returns. Everything since then has been a search for a rationale or justification that would be acceptable to the courts. Committee Republicans are not focused on whether the former President should have made his tax returns public, which has been tradition. Nor are Committee Republicans focused on the accuracy of those tax returns – that is for the IRS to determine in the ongoing audits of the former President.Committee Republicans are concerned that this politically motivated action unleashes a dangerous new political weapon reaching far beyond the former President and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans. Going forward, the new precedent is that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of private citizens, political enemies, business or labor leaders, or even Supreme Court justices. No party in Congress should hold that power. No individual should hold the power to embarrass, harass, or destroy a private citizen through disclosure of their tax returns. But the Committee Majority has demonstrated that the tax-writing committees do have that power.
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After nearly half a century, the political enemies list is back in Washington, D.C, and the Committee’s actions on December 20, 2022, will unleash a new cycle of political retribution in Congress. It didn’t have to be this way. Despite warnings about the long-term negative consequences, Democrats moved forward anyway. This development will simply make our politics more divisive and partisan. Even Democrats will come to regret this. And they may regret it sooner than they think.
Republicans take control of the House, and the committee, next week.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.