On Friday, Justice Department said that the IRS must hand over the income tax returns of former President Donald Trump to the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee.

Office of Legal Counsel lawyer Dawn Johnsen released a 39-page opinion that the IRS must comply with Congress’ request for the documents.

“For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the Secretary [of the IRS] must comply with the Ways and Means Committee’s June 16, 2021 request pursuant to 26 USC § 6103(f)(1) to furnish the Committee with the specified tax returns and related tax information,” Johnsen wrote.

The same office had previously declined to take the Democrats’ side on the issue. During the Trump era, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin refused to hand over the tax returns calling it a partisan issue.

Friday’s memo from the Justice Department indicates a huge shift that could speed up the investigation into the former president. In the memo, Johnsen also added that the committee’s request for the copies of Trump’s tax returns two years ago came with valid legislative objectives.

“The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former President’s tax information,” Johnson said the opinion, “Treasury must furnish the information to the Committee.”

DOJ’s new stance on Trump’s taxes was welcomed by Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California).

“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security,” Pelosi tweeted. “The American people deserve to know the facts of his conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president. The House will always fight to expose the truth.”

Last year August, Pelosi claimed that if then-presidential candidate Biden were to win in November, his administration would be able to release Trump’s tax returns to Congress.

Trump was the first president since the Watergate era to refuse to release his taxes. 

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