For the past month we’ve been chronicling the reaction of the Treasury Department to the demand by Democrat jihadis for several years of President Trump’s personal income tax returns as well as the returns of all his business entities. The purpose is transparent. The Democrats want to use a selective use of information from those returns as a political weapon. What would be the purpose? Odds are that Trump’s actual wealth is tied up in things that don’t produce a lot of income and by revealing his income they can demonstrate that he’s guilty of puffing up his income. Would you be shocked if Trump had exaggerated his income? Or his net worth? Didn’t think so. But the administration knows that the Democrats and their stenographers in the media would make hay with it.
Back on April 10, in response to a memo from Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig demanding Trump’s tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin said “not so fast, Scooter” and took the authority to make that decision from Rettig and gave it to himself. See BREAKING. Treasury Refuses To Give President Trump’s Tax Returns To House Democrats. Two weeks later Mnuchin sort of prepped Neal for the distinct possibility that it was going to take a lot more than a letter to get the returns. See Steve Mnuchin Politely Tells House Democrats They Aren’t Getting Trump’s Tax Returns EVER.
Today, the final shoe dropped in this phase of the skirmish.
The Treasury Department said on Monday that it would not release President Trump’s tax returns to Congress, defying a request from House Democrats and setting up a legal battle likely to be resolved by the Supreme Court.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, wrote in a letter to Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, that Mr. Neal’s request for the tax returns “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose” and that he was not authorized to disclose them. The decision came after weeks of delays as Mr. Mnuchin said that his department and the Justice Department needed to study the provision of the tax code that Democrats were using to seek six years’ worth of the president’s personal and business tax returns.
The request for Mr. Trump’s taxes is the latest instance of the Trump administration rebuffing congressional oversight efforts.
“As you have recognized, the committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” Mr. Mnuchin wrote in the one-page letter.
He added that “the department may not lawfully fulfill the committee’s request.”
The Treasury secretary said that the Justice Department would memorialize its advice on the matter in a published legal opinion.
Even though the law the Democrats are so fond of quoting doesn’t seem to leave much wiggle room, possession, as they say, is 9/10s of the law. Mnuchin has them and unless and until the Supreme Court requires him to give them up, he’s not going to.
There is a law. It is written down. It says Mnuchin shall furnish the returns upon written request. Mnuchin is breaking this law. We don’t need to ask whether there is a legitimate legislative purpose. That’s for investigations where there’s no existing law. Here, there is a law. https://t.co/aR5Wc7FTxq
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) May 6, 2019
(Every time I read these tweets I get immobilized by laughter again)
Based on the rationale for the Democrats request, we should all be horrified of what they are asking. Mnuchin is exactly right. If Trump’s tax returns are up for grabs as part of a political vendetta, then the returns of everyone are up for grabs.
I expect this is going to go away. Any court fight over this is going to last way past the November elections and if Treasury and Justice are willing to push back hard against this bizarre request, it is nearly guaranteed that they will not only delay the final outcome past the election but they will actually prevail in the end.