Trump's Treasury Department is now helping a Hunter Biden probe — while furiously protecting the president

Trump's Treasury Department is now helping a Hunter Biden probe — while furiously protecting the president
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, United States Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, delivers remarks prior the signing ceremony of the U.S. China Phase One Trade Agreement Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in the East Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour)

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon announced Thursday that the U.S. Treasury Department has turned over materials to Senate Republicans to aid in their efforts to investigate Hunter Biden, former Vice President Joe Biden's son.

This assistance in the investigation contrasts with the administration's efforts to hinder investigations launched by the Democratic committee chairs in the House of Representatives. President Donald Trump was impeached in December, in part, for directing the administration to stonewall the House's impeachment inquiry. The other charge in the impeachment, for which Trump was acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate this week, revolved around the president's efforts to induce Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.

Since that plan — undoubtedly intended to harm Biden's chances in the 2020 presidential election — failed and led to Trump's impeachment, Senate Republicans have taken it upon themselves to put the former vice president's family under a microscope.

And while the administration has seen fit to stymie any oversight by Democrats, it appears more than willing to help Republicans.

“Applying a blatant double standard, Trump administration agencies like the Treasury Department are rapidly complying with Senate Republican requests — no subpoenas necessary — and producing ‘evidence’ of questionable origin,” said Wyden spokesperson Ashley Schapitl, as Yahoo News reported. “The administration told House Democrats to go pound sand when their oversight authority was mandatory while voluntarily cooperating with the Senate Republicans’ sideshow at lightning speed.”

It's not only the impeachment inquiry and the Ukraine investigation that Trump obstructed. The Treasury Department has, quite flagrantly, violated a law that requires it to turn over any individual's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee upon request. Chair Richard Neal (D-MA) requested Trump's tax returns as part of his committee's work, but the department simply refused to comply in defiance with the clear letter of the law. The House is pursuing an ongoing lawsuit to obtain those records. (In a related matter, a whistleblower has reportedly alleged that officials may have inappropriately exerted pressure over an audit of Trump's taxes.)

But when it comes to Hunter Biden, it seems the Treasury Department has no objections to complying with congressional requests.

Yahoo News explained:

The “rapid” production of sensitive financial information from the Treasury Department in response to congressional requests is apparently uncommon. A source familiar with the matter said the Treasury began turning over materials less than two months after Grassley and Johnson wrote to FinCEN on Nov. 15, 2019, requesting any SARs and related documents filed by financial institutions regarding Hunter Biden, his associates, their businesses and clients.

Just a couple of weeks later, Wyden and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, complained to FinCEN in a letter that “information requests from Congress, including legitimate Committee oversight requests related to Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs), often take months to process, and we understand that certain such requests have yet to be answered at all.”

This is, from all appearances, exactly what is feared about a president who abuses his power, and it's why Trump was impeached. An unchecked president can use the executive branch to target enemies and protect friends; this is most dangerous when it concerns an upcoming election. And it's not just Democrats who worry about this kind of abuse. Under President Barack Obama, conservatives expressed fears that the IRS was unfairly targeting Tea Party groups for scrutiny (this turned out not to be true, as the agency also scrutinized liberal groups).

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