WASHINGTON: Former president Donald Trump suffered twin setbacks on Friday when the US Justice Department cleared the way to release his tax records and disclosed a memo showing he urged top officials last year to falsely claim his election defeat was “corrupt”.
The department, reversing course from the stance it took when Trump was in office, paved the way for the Internal Revenue Service to hand over the Republican businessman-turned-politician’s tax records to congressional investigators — a move he has long fought.
Handwritten notes taken by acting deputy attorney general Richard Donoghue in December and released on Friday by the chair of the House of Representatives Oversight and Reform Committee paint a damning picture of Trump as he desperately sought to get the department to take the unprecedented step of intervening to try to upend his election loss to Joe Biden. The fact that the Justice Department allowed the handwritten notes concerning the election to be turned over to congressional investigators marked a dramatic shift from actions taken during the Trump administration, which repeatedly invoked executive privilege to skirt congressional scrutiny.
“Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R. Congressmen,” Trump, referring to Republican lawmakers, told Jeffrey Rosen in a Dec 27 phone call days before Rosen was appointed as acting attorney general.
The notes show Rosen telling Trump that the department could not and would not “change the outcome of the election”. The Justice Department ordered the IRS to hand over Trump’s tax returns to a US House of Representatives committee, saying the panel had invoked “sufficient reasons” for requesting it.
The department’s Office of Legal Counsel declared the department had erred in 2019 when it found that the request for Trump’s tax returns by the House Ways and Means Committee was based on a “disingenuous” objective aimed at exposing them to the public.
Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2021