On a scale of 1 – “I’m not desperate, you’re desperate! ::nervous laugh::”, Democrats standing somewhere between “shoot ourselves in the foot twice and try to make an issue of something no one cares about” and “this is literally all the eggs we own right here in this shoddy little basket.”

Friday, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee issued a subpoena to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig demanding Trump’s tax returns.

Mind you, Trump didn’t release his tax returns prior to the 2016 election, no one seemed to care (no one cares now), and he won. Surely, Democrats know this is going to turn into a lengthy court battle that’s only going to further damage their public image. Or maybe they don’t.

From Politico:

…Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who is spearheading the effort, delivered formal demands for the filings to both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Neal is giving them until 5pm next Friday to comply.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” he said in a statement. “I sincerely hope that the Treasury Department will furnish the requested material in the next week so the committee can quickly begin its work.”

The move comes as the administration is defying subpoenas from other Democrats investigating the executive branch, with lawmakers now in the process of holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for rejecting their demand for an unredacted version of Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

If, as is widely expected, the administration reject’s Neal’s subpoena as well, the next step for Democrats would likely be to sue for Trump’s confidential filings in court.

…Taking the subpoena route is likely to be more time-consuming, but it could help buttress a court case. At minimum, it would show a judge that Democrats tried other means of getting the information from the administration before turning to the court system.

Neal’s announcement came after Mnuchin on Monday formally rejected the Massachusetts Democrat’s request for the tax documents under an arcane law allowing the heads of Congress’ tax committees to examine anyone’s tax returns. Democrats could then vote to make some or all of Trump’s filings publicly available.

Mnuchin said Democrats don’t have a “legitimate” reason for seeking the returns.

Pretty much what Mnuchin said. Why do they want the tax returns? What do they think (or pretend) it will prove? What damning evidence do they hope to find?

Because none of this is being done in earnest, there are no answers to those questions, just an attempt to create a wedge issue that no one cares about and pretend that a president who can’t keep his mouth shut about anything isn’t transparent.

Back to Politico:

In a letter to Neal on Friday morning, Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas), the top Ways and Means Republican, accused Democrats of mounting a “coordinated attempt to weaponize the tax code and use Congress’ legitimate oversight authority for political gain.”

A court would have to determine whether the legitimate reason standard applies here and, if so, whether Democrats meet it. A judge might also consider other concerns like if forcing the administration’s hand would have broader implications for executive power, congressional oversight or taxpayers’ right to privacy.

It would not be unusual, some experts say, if a judge was reluctant to get involved in such a politically charged case and instead pushed the two sides to compromise.

Must suck to be headed into election season with an empty arsenal and crappy poll numbers, but Democrats only have themselves to blame.

All Democrats have to do is not be crazy, fringe lunatics to mount a decent offense, and they can’t even do that.


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