SEABROOK – In a letter to a federal appeals court released on Aug. 27, Deutsche Bank confirmed it possessed tax returns that it would allow the House of Representatives to view in order to fulfill a subpoena related to President Donald Trump.
The letter names all the people that they have tax returns for but the specific names were redacted for the public court record. The bank also confirms having the tax returns of “immediate family” of those named in the subpoena.
“Based on Deutsche Bank’s current knowledge and the results of the extensive searches that have already been conducted, the bank has in its possession tax returns (in either draft or filed form) responsive to the subpoenas,” the letter states. “In addition, the bank has such documents related to parties not named in the subpoenas but who may constitute ‘immediate family’ within the definition provided in the subpoenas.”
The House had requested Deutsche to turnover the documents of Trump; his children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump; immediate family members; and the Trump Organization, trust and other Trump-family-controlled companies following multiple rebuffs by the president to the requests by the chamber. The German lender has a long relationship with Trump, as it loaned the Trump Organization about $300 million to fund several of its business ventures.
The timing of the letter comes after lawyers from both Deutsche Bank and Capital One refused to tell an appellate court in New York if they possessed Trump’s tax returns, citing “contract obligations” during a hearing on Aug. 23. A three-judge panel directed both parties to file letters explaining whose tax returns they had.
Lawmakers have been trying to get their hands on Trump’s tax returns since the former businessman and television personality became a presidential candidate. When asked about releasing his tax returns, Trump often cited being audited as the reason why he cannot open or release them to the public.
On April 16, two House committees, House Intelligence and Financial Services, issued subpoenas to four banks, including Deutsche Bank, as a part of an investigation into Trump’s finances. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) also added that the subpoenas would investigate “allegations of potential foreign influence on the U.S. political process.”
“As part of our oversight authority and authorized investigation into allegations of potential foreign influence on the U.S. political process, the House Intelligence Committee today issued subpoenas to multiple financial institutions in coordination with the House Financial Services Committee, including a friendly subpoena to Deutsche Bank, which has been cooperative with the Committees,” Schiff said.
Another way Democratic lawmakers have attempted to obtain Trump’s tax returns is through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on May 15, Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) questioned Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about the IRS’ function in ensuring that that the president is paying the taxes he owes.
Van Hollen brought up the history of former Presidents Richard Nixon and Warren G. Harding with the IRS hiding tax issues they owed during their time in office. Those examples, Van Hollen argued, should be enough reason for the Treasury Department to follow a Congressional subpoena.
“We have a president who has bragged about not paying taxes,” Van Hollen said. “When he ran for president, he said ‘that makes me smart.’ Just a week ago, he tweeted the write-offs he claimed were ‘tax shelters,’ and that’s his words, and it said it was sport.”
Mnuchin’s response was that the forced release of those returns would be a “weaponization of the IRS,” which could be used against anyone, and that the request of checking to make sure Trump legally paid his taxes was under review with the Department of Justice.
“The answer is that there is a difference in interpretation between Congress and us and the Department of Justice around this law that not only impacts this president and this Congress but has a very big impact on every single taxpayer in weaponizing the IRS,” Mnuchin said “And this is why there are three branches of government, so if there is a difference of opinion, this will go to the third branch of government to be resolved.”
Following the hearing and Mnuchin not responding to a subpoena to turn over the material, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit in federal court to obtain six years of Trump’s tax returns and administrative files after multiple attempts to work with the IRS. Attempts to speed up the lawsuit were denied by a federal judge on Aug. 29.
Trump responded by filing a lawsuit of his own against the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee as well as New York state’s attorney general to block any disclosure of his tax returns. New York passed a bill in May that would authorize the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance to share tax return information with a requesting Congressional committee.
“We have filed a lawsuit today in our ongoing efforts to end presidential harassment,” said Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow. “The actions taken by the House and New York officials are nothing more than political retribution.”
Trump did not issue a response to the bank’s letter after his return from the G7 Summit in France. Instead, the president took shots at the mainstream media outlets for its portrayal of the proceedings with Trump and other global leaders.
“The G7 in France was so successful, and yet when I came back and read the corrupt and fake news, and watched numerous networks, it was not even recognizable from what actually took place at the Great G7 event,” Trump said on his personal Twitter account on Aug. 27.