Mnuchin says fight for Trump’s tax returns will likely go to court

Evarado Alatorre
May 18, 2019

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday accused congressional Democrats of "weaponizing the IRS" by trying to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns and said the battle would likely have to be decided by the courts. "That's why there are three branches of government, so that if there's a difference in opinion it can go to" a different branch to be resolved.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, initially requested Trump's returns by relying on a 1924 law that gives his committee the power to request the tax returns of any filer from the Treasury Department.

"There is a difference in interpretation between Congress and us and the Department of Justice that not only impacts the President in this Congress but has a very big impact on every single taxpayer in weaponizing the IRS", Mnuchin, told a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig face a Friday deadline to hand over six years of Trump's personal and business tax documents.

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Raising the stakes, Mnuchin suggested Wednesday he planned to reject that subpoena.

Mnuchin is sticking to earlier arguments that Neal's demand for Trump's taxes would set a precedent that lawmakers could pursue confidential tax information for political purposes.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who was leading the hearing, used the example of requesting the returns of all the 2020 Democratic candidates. "We will comply with the timing of it, I think you can pretty much guess how we're going to, but we haven't made a decision".

Mnuchin told the senators that Congress didn't need to see the president's returns to ensure the IRS was conducting audits properly. "I have not had any discussions with the president or taken any direction from him or anybody else in White House on this issue", he added.

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