Democrats in the House have drawn a line in the sand, giving the Internal Revenue Service a firm deadline to deliver President Donald Trump’s tax returns in response to a previous request from the House Ways and Means Committee, The Washington Post reports. That deadline is April 23.
Committee Chairman Representative Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, made the expectation clear in a letter sent Saturday to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. The letter was in response to statements from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has publicly equivocated on whether he thought that the request was legitimate and whether the Treasury Department would comply under his leadership. The previous deadline for providing the returns was April 10.
Mnuchin has not outright said that we would refuse the request, but rather several times indicated that he would postpone or delay its fulfillment. If the treasury secretary does indeed outright deny the congressional request, he will doubtlessly face subpoenas or a lawsuit in federal court.
Mnuchin, also on Saturday, said to reporters that the request evokes some “very, very complicated” legal questions and made the case that whatever decision he made could have far-reaching implications that extend well beyond the particulars of Trump. He indicated that the precedent set here would come into play down the road as it would open the door for Congress in the future to make similar requests to the IRS, including with respect to future presidents. Mnuchin claims that he is working with the legal office of the Treasury along with Justice Department lawyers. He stated clearly that as of yet he has not spoken personally with Attorney General William Barr on the topic of Trump’s taxes.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called a new House deadline for the IRS to deliver President Trump’s tax returns "arbitrary" https://t.co/hlzN0mXhzO
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) April 13, 2019
Republicans allies in Congress as well as William Consovoy, Trump’s personal attorney leading the president’s response to this matter, have been pushing consistently back on requests for the returns. They argue that honoring Democrats’ request, which they characterize as politically motivated, would potentially weaponize the IRS on a partisan playing field. Consovoy has referred to the request as a “gross abuse of power” and Mnuchin has said that it “raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority.”
“I think it’s more important to the American taxpayers that we get this right than we hit an arbitrary deadline,” Mnuchin added this weekend.
“I’m not going to make a commitment prematurely as to whether we’ll be able to conclude our legal review within [Neal’s] deadline or not.”