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House Democrats double down on their investigations into Trump’s finances

The House Oversight Committee will subpoena Trump's financial records. Ways and Means wants his tax returns.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14:  U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) conducts a hearing on March 14, 2019 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) conducts a hearing on March 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As Washington awaits special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report — which President Donald Trump and his allies claim fully exonerates him of any wrongdoing, though it’s still unclear exactly what evidence Mueller compiled — House Democrats are moving full steam ahead on investigations unrelated to the special counsel’s office.

Top Democrats on the Hill have expanded their probe into Trump’s finances, looking for evidence about whether the president and his businesses may have committed financial crimes.

On Friday, a memo revealed that House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) plans to subpoena accounting firm Mazars USA LLP, seeking 10 years of the president’s personal and business-related financial records.

And on Saturday, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) sent a new letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, re-upping his request for six years of Trump’s tax returns, and giving the agency until April 23 to comply.

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The investigations by the two committees are among many congressional probes into possible crimes involving the president and his campaign, inauguration, business practices, and inner-circle. Those investigations are separate from the nearly two-year investigation conducted by the special counsel that looked into whether Trump’s campaign played a role in Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election.

Last month, Attorney General William Barr released a summary of Mueller’s report, which relayed that Mueller’s team did not find evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to influence the election. On Tuesday, Barr said he planned to publicly release a redacted version of the full report within the next week.

Cummings said his committee needs Trump’s financial records to corroborate claims made by Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, who testified before Congress in February that Trump inflated his net worth to lenders, inflated property values to insurers, and deflated property values for tax dodging purposes. Cohen’s testimony implicated his former boss in several potential federal crimes.

The subpoena seeks all Trump-related records prepared by Mazars, including the president’s revocable trust and the Trump Organization.

Neal sent his letter to the IRS after the Treasury Department informed the Ways and Means chair that it would not meet its previous one-week deadline to turn over Trump’s tax records because it needed to consult with the Justice Department before responding further. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also told Neal that he would would handle the request and consult with DOJ, rather than Rettig.

After Republican lawmakers spent two years failing to scrutinize the scandals plaguing the president and his inner circle, Democrats have been quick to wield their renewed power as the majority in the House following the 2018 midterm elections.

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The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have launched their own investigations into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the election. And aside from Trump’s taxes and business dealings, several committees are investigating his hush-money payments during the campaign apparently designed to suppress negative coverage, his taxes, his inauguration contributions and expenditures, and his transition.

In March, the House Judiciary Committee launched Congress’ most wide-ranging investigation into the president’s alleged crimes by requesting documents from 81 companies, federal agencies, U.S. and foreign individuals, Republican organizations, and people within Trump’s inner circle, including several members of his family.