Mnuchin Rejects Democrats’ Demand To Hand Over Trump’s Tax Returns, All But Ensuring Legal Battle

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday told House Democrats he would not furnish President Donald Trump’s tax returns despite their legal request, the latest move by Trump administration officials to shield the president from congressional investigations.

Mnuchin, in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said he had consulted with the Justice Department and that they had concluded that it would not be lawful for the Trump administration to turn over the tax returns because of potential violations of privacy.

Mnuchin added that requests from Congress “must reasonable serve a legitimate legislative purpose” and that the request from Democrats does not.

Neal said in a statement on Monday evening, “I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response.”

On April 23, Mnuchin notified House Democrats that he would be consulting with the Justice Department about the request for Trump’s tax returns and planned to reach his final decision on May 6.

In his new letter, he said that “In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, and . . . the Department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information.”

He said the Justice Department plans to make public its legal reasoning in finding that Mnuchin didn’t have to furnish the requests. Alexei Woltornist, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, referred a request for a copy of the department’s opinion to the Treasury Department.

Neal first requested six years of Trump’s business and personal tax returns in March, and Mnuchin has twice requested deadlines set by Democrats and said he needed more time to review the law. In his latest rejection, Mnuchin cited his consultations with the Justice Department, though he did not provide more information about their reasoning.

Democrats rejected Mnuchin’s argument and promised to continue pressing for the tax returns.

Democrats have said obtaining the tax returns is necessary for them to perform their oversight duties, but Mnuchin has said repeatedly that their request for these records could be an invasion of Trump’s privacy and become a fishing expedition. In April, Mnuchin revealed that Treasury officials had conferred with White House lawyers about Trump’s tax returns before Democrats sent their formal request to the Internal Revenue Service. At the time, Mnuchin said he had not discussed the matter personally with the president.

“It looks like Mnuchin is ready for the fight – this is a plain rejection,” said Steve Rosenthal, an expert at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, who has briefed Congress on the matter. “He’s not delaying any further.”

With Treasury’s rejection, House Democrats may seek other avenues to obtain the president’s financial records. New York state’s legislature is currently considering legislation that would allow its tax department to turn Trump’s state returns over to certain Congress bodies, including the House Ways & Means Committee. Brad Hoylman, a state senator in New York who authored the legislation, said Mnuchin’s denial will speed up consideration of his bill, which has already passed committee and could be approved by the state senate this May.

“Today’s news increases the sense of urgency that Albany must act now to provide the House Ways and Means Committee with the president’s state returns,” Hoylman said on Monday, adding he has been discussing the bill with Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y. “It could move very soon.”

The chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have had the authority since 1924 to obtain the tax returns of any American, and the law stipulates that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” the information once it is requested. This law was put in place during the Harding administration because of financial improprieties that stemmed from the Teapot Dome scandal.

Trump is the first president since the Nixon administration to refuse to provide his tax returns. Democrats have accused Trump of shielding embarrassing information, but Republicans have said Trump is under no obligation to provide financial records and that voters decided the records were not important when they elected him to office.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Damian Paletta, Jeff Stein  

{Matzav.com}

1 COMMENT

  1. (Tea Party PAC) – How is this even legal?
    Rep. Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, has been targeting Trump for new investigations since the Mueller investigation didn’t pan out the way Dems are hoping.
    As it so happens, however, Nadler’s son is working for a firm that is suing President Trump.
    The Mueller team was full of conflicts of interest, with numerous members of the investigative committee having donated to, worked for, or represented the Hillary team or the Democratic Party.
    It was never a fair investigation, and now, Nadler’s clearly won’t be either.
    Big League Politics reports:
    Democrat congressman Jerry Nadler, leading the investigative charge against President Donald Trump, has a son whose firm is trying to get access to Trump documents for their clients in numerous lawsuits against President Trump.
    “Congressman Jerry Nadler has a big conflict,” our source tells Big League Politics in Washington, D.C.
    “His son (Michael Nadler) got a job with Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP in 2018. That’s convenient because Jerry Nadler and the Democrats just won control of the House in 2018. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher hire Jerry’s son and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher are the main Nemesis against Trump and the Trump Administration on numerous lawsuits. Now the Nadler family will gain access to thousands of Trump documents via Jerry’s subpoenas!,” our insider stated.
    According to Michael Nadler’s LinkedIn account, he does indeed work for Gibson Dunn and Crutcher:
    He also boasts about having been given an award for helping sanctuary families.
    Nadler also brags about having worked for far-left New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio as well as the disgraced former New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after being accused of l abuse by at least four women.
    Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, as a well-established anti-Trump law firm, also represented the insufferable Jim Acosta after his press pass to the White House was revoked.
    They also sued US State Department on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights as the group attempted to dig up details of the Trump admin’s alleged changes to regularly issued government human rights reports. The group was displaced that Trump had taken Obama-era reporting out of a government report detailing concerns on abortion “rights.”
    Also, the law firm offered to represent Trump sex accusers for free in the days ahead of the 2016 election.
    This is a massive conflict of interest for Jerry Nadler, and he should immediately recuse himself from anything having to do with President Trump!

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