Peter Overby

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Updated at 4:35 p.m. ET

White House lawyers communicated with the Treasury Department about how to handle House Democrats' request for President Trump's tax returns even before they made it, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.

A new lawsuit by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, targets an obscure provision of campaign finance law.

At issue is loophole-closing language that restricts how much money lawmakers can accept from donors after Election Day as they seek to recoup loans they made to their campaigns.

The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law puts a $250,000 limit on payments from postelection donors, even if the candidate lent more, and there's a 20-day deadline for donors to contribute. Cruz is suing the Federal Election Commission as enforcer of the provision.

Updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

Democrats have long called for President Trump to release his tax returns, and now a key congressman has put in a formal request with the IRS.

Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, is requesting six years of Trump's personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses for the years 2013-2018. Neal argues that Congress, and his committee in particular, need to conduct oversight of the IRS, including its policy of auditing the tax returns of sitting presidents.

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As Democratic presidential hopefuls seek to grow the small-donor juggernaut that fueled the party's takeover of the House of Representatives last year, the Democratic National Committee is giving them a firm shove, offering slots in the presidential primary debates to candidates who build a broad fundraising base.

"I really believe that we're at our best when we're connecting with people," DNC chair Tom Perez told MSNBC recently. "That's how we won in 2018, and frankly that's how Barack Obama won in 2008. And that's exactly what I think this will incentivize."

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Presidential candidates have to file their first campaign finance reports at the end of this month. As NPR's Peter Overby reports, Democratic candidates are taking a tip from last year's congressional races and asking for small donations.

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This story is published in partnership with The Center for Public Integrity

Rich businessman Wilbur Ross' promise to divest millions of dollars' worth of assets upon becoming Commerce Department secretary drew warm praise in 2017, even from Democrats.

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As Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand jumped into the Democratic presidential nomination contest, they staked out the same position against corporate campaign cash.

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