Looks like we are headed to a court battle.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin answered the 5pm deadline set by House Democrats to turn over Trump’s tax returns with a simple answer. Go take a long walk off a short pier.
NBC News has the breathless report.
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department said Friday that it would not comply with congressional subpoenas to provide six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin sent a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass, before the 5 p.m. ET deadline to hand over the documents. Mnuchin said that, on advice of the Justice Department, Treasury had determined that the committee’s request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,” and so the department is not “authorized to disclose the requested returns.”
“For the same reasons, we are unable to provide the requested information in response to the Committee’s subpoena,” Mnuchin said.
What the Democrats are doing is transparent politics and a complete abuse of the relevant statutes. There is no constitutional oversight for Congress to look into aspects of a President’s business ventures before he was even President. Their proper oversight role extends to his time in office, dealing with aspects of his office. Congressional committees are not meant to be personal opposition research arms, digging through years old tax returns hoping to create negative innuendo.
We know that Trump hasn’t done anything illegal. How? Because the IRS is a thing that exists. If Trump had broken any laws dealing with his taxes or businesses, he would have been charged years and years ago. I have no doubt the IRS under Obama would have come down hard on him during 2016 if there was anything there to pursue. There’s clearly not.
This isn’t about actual oversight or illegality. No, what Democrats want is to do is publicize complicated financial transactions and try to spin them into nefarious activity, most likely to assert that other countries have “leverage” over the President.
Democrat Chariman Richard Neal responded to Mnuchin’s denial.
Neal responded Friday saying that the law provides “clear statutory authority” for him to request and received access to tax returns and return information.
“The law, by its terms, does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns and return information,” he wrote. “Given the Treasury Secretary’s failure to comply today, I am consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward.”
The question of whether Neal has a legitimate legislative reason to seek the returns is easy to answer. Of course he doesn’t. He’s claiming that they need to ensure the IRS is auditing the President, per legal requirements, but that’s ludicrous. The idea that the IRS would break the law for Trump is a laughable premise. It’s full of career bureaucrats, who historically vote Democrat over 90% of the time. No one at the IRS is protecting Donald Trump.
The issue will be the language in the law though. It does appear to give Congress broad power to request returns, despite the fact that it was never meant to be used this way, i.e. to target Presidents for political reasons. While the statute itself favors Democrats, Congress can’t operate within an oversight role without a legitimate legislative reason for doing so because that’s the legal basis for all of their oversight powers. Neal’s claims are shallow on their face and he’s trying to open Pandora’s box when it comes to misusing Congressional power against political opponents.
Regardless, I fully expect an Obama appointed judge to be given this case and for him to rule against the President, no matter the facts at hand. Eventually, Democrats are going to get their wish and see Trump’s taxes. It’ll just depend on whether the court battle drags out past 2020, making the issue irrelevant.