Here are some of the legal news stories making headlines this week:
The January 6 Committee completed its investigation.
- On Monday, the Committee held its final public meeting. Committee members once again highlighted former President Donald Trump’s conduct on January 6th, 2021, his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and the aftermath of the attack at the Capitol. Rep. Elaine Luria, a member of the Committee, said that Trump “actively disregarded his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed.” “That is because the mob wanted what President Trump wanted: to impede the peaceful transition of power,” Luria continued.
- During the meeting, the Committee members voted to refer Trump and a number of his allies to the Department of Justice for prosecution. The suggested charges include obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the government, conspiracy to make a false statement, and incitement of insurrection. The Committee also referred four Republican members of the House of Representatives (Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Andy Biggs, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy) to the House Ethics Committee for defying Committee subpoenas.
- The Committee also released its final report. In it, the Committee laid out its case against Trump in a number of central findings. For example, the Committee accused Trump of “purposely disseminat[ing] false allegations of fraud” in an effort to overturn the election results, to remain in the presidency, and to raise money. The Committee also highlighted the pressure Trump applied to former Vice President Mike Pence, DOJ officials, state and local officials, and others, to aid in his efforts to overturn the election results. The Committee also focused on Trump’s inaction while the violent mob attacked the Capitol. In addition, the Committee released the transcripts from 34 witness interviews, including, among others, former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, former law professor John Eastman, and extremist group leaders Stewart Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio.
The House Ways and Means Committee is releasing Donald Trump’s tax returns.
- The saga over Trump’s tax returns has been ongoing for years. In this iteration, House Democrats launched this inquiry in 2019 once they took control of the chamber. There have also been other legal battles pertaining to Trump’s tax returns, most notably stemming from the investigation being conducted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
- On Tuesday, the House Committee voted 24-16, along party lines, to approve the public release of six years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns. After the vote, Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal said that the decision to release the tax information was “about a presidency, not a president.” Rep. Kevin Brady, the Republican ranking member of the Committee, called it “a dangerous new political weapon that overturns decades of privacy protections for average taxpayers in the era of political targeting.”
- One report released thus far, which was prepared by the House Joint Committee on Taxation, revealed that Trump paid varying amounts of federal income tax over the past six years. For example, he paid $750 in 2017 and $0 in 2020, while he paid $1.1 million in 2018 and 2019. The Ways and Means Committee also released a report revealing that the Internal Revenue Service did not launch an audit of Trump’s taxes, which is required by IRS rules, until over two years after he became president — after the House Committee launched its inquiry. By contrast, the New York Times reported that the IRS launched audits of President Joe Biden’s and former President Barack Obama’s tax returns immediately once they took office. More information will emerge when the raw tax returns are released in the coming days.
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