Impeachment calls intensify as tax returns legal battle looms for Trump
Republican rival hits out at the ‘brazenness’ of administration
Bill Weld, the Republican former governor and federal prosecutor challenging Donald Trump for their party's nomination in 2020, says the president is "impeachable" as a result of the Mueller report, attacking his administration's "brazenness" over the handling of the investigation into Russian collusion.
Democratic contender Eric Swalwell has likewise called for impeachment to remove the "really bad kid in the White House" as Joe Biden surges ahead of nearest rival Bernie Sanders in the opinion polls.
Mr Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, told MSNBC's 'The Beat with Ari Melber' that the president was "impeachable" as a result of the Mueller report, a position he was initially opposed to but now says "needs a little rethinking in view of the brazenness" of both Mr Trump and his attorney general William Barr in their handling of the report and subsequent refusal to co-operate with further congressional investigations. The House Judiciary Committee will vote on whether to hold Mr Barr in contempt of Congress today.
Mr Weld added his name to the hundreds of signatures from members of the legal profession who published an open letter on Monday saying there was enough evidence of obstruction of justice in the FBI special counsel's report to generate "multiple charges" against Mr Trump and that only his being the president saved him from facing them.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has meanwhile refused to release the president's tax returns to the House Ways and Means committee.
Mr Mnuchin told Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal that the panel's request "lacks a legitimate legislative purpose" as Supreme Court precedent requires.
In making that determination, Mr Mnuchin said he relied on the advice of the Justice Department. He concluded the Treasury Department is "not authorised to disclose the requested returns and return information". He said the Justice Department will provide a more detailed legal justification soon. The move is sure to set in motion a legal battle over Mr Trump's tax returns. The chief options available to Democrats are to subpoena the IRS for the returns or to file a lawsuit. Last week, Mr Neal promised "we'll be ready" to act soon after Monday's deadline.
The Treasury's denial came on the day the House Judiciary panel scheduled a vote for today on whether to find Mr Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with a subpoena for a full, unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller's report.
"I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response," Mr Neal said in a statement on Monday.
Mr Neal originally demanded access to Mr Trump's tax returns in early April under a law that says the IRS "shall furnish" the returns of any taxpayer to a handful of top lawmakers, including the chair of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee. He maintains the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of tax returns of all sitting presidents, a way to justify his claim that the panel has a potential legislative purpose.
Democrats are confident in their legal justification and say Mr Trump is stalling in an attempt to punt the issue past the 2020 election. The White House and the Republican president's attorneys declined to comment on the deadline to turn over Mr Trump's returns. (© Independent News Service)
Independent News Service