BREAKING. Treasury Refuses to Give President Trump's Tax Returns to House Democrats

Caricature by DonkeyHotey

Last week, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig demanding six years of income tax returns filed by President Trump and by entities controlled by him. Ostensibly, the committee needed the tax returns for official purposes:

Consistent with its authority, the Committee is considering legislative proposals and conducting oversight related to our Federal tax laws, including, but not limited to, the extent to which the IRS audits and enforces the Federal tax laws against a President. Under the Internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to, mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws. It is necessary for the Committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.

You’d have to be rather thick to actually believe that. Everyone knows what it really afoot here. This is simply the House Democrats using their authority to harass the president. That might be a completely legitimate act but there is zero reason the president has to pretend it is anything other than bullsh**.

Accordingly, Neal got his answer today.

Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said his department will not meet the Wednesday deadline set by congressional Democrats to turn over copies of President’s Trump tax returns, escalating a clash between the White House and Congress.

Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department as to the constitutional questions raised by the Democrats request and appeared deeply skeptical of the lawmakers intentions. He did not flatly reject the notion that he might ultimately comply, but the letter suggested that Mnuchin would not hold himself to any timeline.

In a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin wrote, “The Committee’s request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose, and the constitutional rights of American citizens.”

But, Mnuchin said Wednesday, “[t]he legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically-motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power.”

Neal and the Democrats are basing their authority on a 1924 law requiring the IRS to deliver up the tax returns. Quite honestly, if Mnuchin says no, that’s just about the end of it. If the Democrats go to court it will be interesting to see their argument for why they think it is okay to continue to use the IRS as a political weapon. And, if they do resort to the courts, Donald Trump will be a former president before the case is ever decided.

Naturally, the Vichy Republicans are upset that the White House, Treasury, and Justice are coordinating on this issue.

Mark W. Everson, who served as the IRS commissioner under President George W. Bush, said there is little dispute that Congress has the authority to receive Trump’s tax returns. He also said he was alarmed by Mulvaney’s comments denying Democrats would ever get the returns.

“I understand the stakes are significant, because it involves a president. But I am disturbed that the White House, through the chief of staff, would appear to be calling the shots on a matter that is fully within the purview of the Treasury Department,” Everson said. “I think the law is clear on this matter.”

It is sort of difficult to understand the politics of this. In the wake of the exposure of the collusion hoax, this is simply going to cement the idea that the Democrats, media, and Vichy Republicans are out to damage Trump by any means. But, it they want to play this silly game, they are going to find that when they are facing concerted resistance on the part of the White House and executive branch is going to be quite the uphill climb.

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