The United States House of Representatives Oversight Committee has issued a subpoena order to former President Donald Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking several years of his tax returns and other financial information, renewing a previous subpoena it had made in 2019 seeking those documents.
The committee is trying to obtain those records in order to demonstrate whether Trump had significant business conflicts of interest when he was in office from 2017 to 2021. The former president infamously refused to divest from his financial interests when he was sworn in more than four years ago.
A memorandum from Oversight Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) explained that the information was still needed, despite Trump now being a private citizen, “in order to verify key facts and tailor legislative reforms” for future administrations.
“For more than 22 months, the committee has been denied key information needed to inform legislative action to address the once-in-a-generation ethics crisis created by former President Trump’s unprecedented conflicts of interest,” Maloney wrote in that memo, dated from February 23.
The Oversight Committee is seeking eight years of documents from Mazars USA, as well as other financial information from Trump.
The original 2019 request for Trump’s finances expired when the new congressional term began this year. Originally, Democrats had issued the subpoena in response to testimony given by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who in February 2019 had said that the former president had often tailored information about his assets — either inflating or deflating them — to his own financial advantage, prior to entering office.
The Supreme Court ruled in July 2020 that the subpoena order from the House Oversight Committee was overly broad, and a possible overreach of the oversight powers of Congress. It denied the request at the time for the documents to be handed over, stating that Democrats had to explain further why it was necessary to have those records.
At the same time, the high court ruled that a separate subpoena for those records from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. could go forward. Until last month, however, Trump’s legal team had continued to hold up the process of releasing Trump’s tax documents by raising a series of legal objections. But on Monday, February 22, the Supreme Court refused to hear further legal arguments from Trump’s lawyers seeking to deny DA Cyrus Vance access to the information. Vance’s office received Trump’s tax records that same day.
Vance is investigating the possibility that Trump violated New York State law by engaging in banking, insurance, or tax fraud, based on Cohen’s comments, as well as the revelation about hush-money payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, which may have also been illegal.
Trump’s taxes are still unseen by the public eye, due to grand jury rules limiting access to them. It’s highly possible that the full picture of Trump’s tax and income history will never be made public.
In 2016, after promising to release his tax information, Trump became the first major presidential candidate since the 1970s not to make his records public, citing an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit that limited his ability to do so. The IRS issued a statement that same year saying an audit wouldn’t limit any candidate from being able to publicly release such information, however, Trump never released the records.