Democratic chairman pens Wash Post op-ed on his Trump tax return request

Democratic chairman pens Wash Post op-ed on his Trump tax return request
© Greg Nash

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Trump argues NY tax return case should take place in DC NY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday explained his efforts to obtain President TrumpDonald John TrumpSarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor The US-Iranian scuffle over a ship is a sideshow to events in the Gulf South Korea: US, North Korea to resume nuclear talks 'soon' MORE's tax returns in an op-ed in The Washington Post.

"I did not pick this fight, but I will not shirk it because it’s about something much bigger than tax forms," Neal wrote. "This is not an exercise in political retribution: I am not willing to trade the reputation of the Ways and Means Committee for cheap political gains."

The op-ed comes as the Ways and Means Committee is suing the Trump administration in an effort to obtain Trump's federal tax returns, and Trump is suing the committee in an effort to prevent House Democrats from obtaining his New York state tax returns.

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The piece also comes as progressives have been criticizing Neal, arguing that he has not been moving quickly and aggressively enough on Trump's tax returns. Earlier this month, progressive Holyoke, Mass., Mayor Alex Morse announced a primary challenge to Neal.

Neal discussed in his op-ed how he is seeking Trump's federal tax returns in order to examine the IRS's policy of conducting mandatory audits of sitting presidents.

"The president is unique: No other American has the power to sign bills into law and direct an entire branch of government," he wrote. "That power, and the extent to which the IRS can audit and enforce federal tax laws against a current or future president, merits closer legislative scrutiny."

Neal, who became chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in January, wrote that he has aspired for decades to lead the prestigious panel, which has jurisdiction over tax, health, trade and Social Security issues.

He said he's not interested in taking actions just to score political points, but that he and his House Democratic colleagues are committed to protecting the country's political institutions.

"I have no intention of squandering my chairmanship of this distinguished panel on petty or malevolent efforts to embarrass the current president," he wrote. "But in this country, we take seriously the Magna Carta’s precept of the rule of law, not the law of rulers. I will fight with everything I have to reassert Congress’s constitutional mandate to serve as an equal branch of government."