Democrats were thwarted on Monday when the Treasury Department finally responded to their demand for President Trump’s tax returns. Instead of handing the returns over to the House Ways and Means Committee, Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the House Dems to basically…take a hike.
“As you have recognized,” he said in a letter to Rep. Richard Neal, “the committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers.”
Furthermore, he wrote, the Democrat request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”
Apparently dragging Trump’s name through the mud and winning the 2020 election is not a “legitimate legislative purpose” in the eyes of the Treasury Department.
In his letter to Neal, Mnuchin noted that he’d consulted with lawyers for the DOJ before making his decision.
“The Department of Justice has informed us that it intends to memorialize its advice in a published legal opinion as soon as practicable. Out of respect for the deadlines previously set by the Committee, and consistent with our commitment to a prompt response, I am informing you now that the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee’s request,” the letter read.
Mnuchin’s move did not come as a surprise to observers, but the ball is now with House Democrats to decide what to do next. The obvious next move would be to either subpoena the IRS directly or to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration. If they choose the latter course of action, it will be up to a federal court to decide whether or not Congress has the unlimited authority to demand anyone’s tax returns for any reason under the sun.
In an op-ed for Fox News last week, Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) of the House Ways and Means Committee accused Democrats of “weaponizing” the IRS in their latest effort to smear the president.
“President Trump has fully complied with the financial disclosure laws set by Congress. His 92-page disclosure discusses his assets, income, transactions, liabilities, gifts, travel reimbursements and sources of compensation exceeding $5,000 in a year,” Rice wrote.
“What would the president’s federal income tax returns show? An idea of his income streams, assets he sold that year, and how much individual tax he paid,” Rice continued. “But no matter how hard Democrats might try to convince you, there is no line on any tax form that would show President Trump colluded with Russia to get elected.”