Treasury rejects Democrats’ demand for Trump’s tax returns

Minnie Murray
April 11, 2019

Trump told reporters at the White House that "I would love to give them, but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit".

Rep. Richard Neal, a powerful House chairman, has asked the IRS to turn over six years' of the president's tax returns by the end of the day.

Democrats are pursuing Trump's returns under a legal authority that aims to prevent interference from the White House on the Treasury's decision whether to release the tax returns, in what the White House chief of staff has called a "political stunt".

Trump has repeatedly asked aides as to the status of the House request, and has inquired about the "loyalty" of the top officials at the IRS, according to one outside adviser who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Senior Republicans, including Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Kevin Brady, the ranking GOP member on House Ways and Means, have said Democrats are using the tax code to go after a political foe.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney: "I think the fact that there was any communication with the White House about this is deeply troubling and certainly violates the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law, and I think we need to get to the bottom of this".

Mnuchin added that he was never briefed on the content of the discussions, and would not say what he would do about the Democrats' requests. "It will be embarrassing if I keep this person waiting for a long period of time". Even though Neal addressed his letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig, Mnuchin said he would personally oversee the review.

Democrats don't expect the department to comply, but they haven't sketched out their next steps.

Asked about the matter on Wednesday, Trump once again said his tax returns were being audited by the IRS.

This is a hard lesson that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin learned on Tuesday when he showed out during his testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee, which Waters leads.

He said the department would likely respond by Neal's deadline but didn't say whether he would provide the returns as demanded.

Trump declined to release his records while running for president in 2016, breaking with decades of precedent. He lost his calm when he was in a hearing with California Representative Maxine Waters. Before Waters ended the hearing at 5:30 p.m., Mnuchin withdrew his offer to return before the committee in May. The IRS says there's no rule against subjects of an audit from publicly releasing their tax filings. Consovoy writes. "Why is he not requesting information about the audits of previous presidents?"

Other presidential candidates, dating back to the Nixon administration, have released their tax returns.

"When he said that he had somebody important (to meet), I don't think that there's anything or anybody more important than the Congress of the United States of America trying to find out what exactly this secretary is doing", she said. He also said he was alarmed by Mulvaney's comments denying Democrats would ever get the returns.

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