The battle for President Donald Trump’s tax returns appears to have no end in sight as the Treasury Department said Monday that it refuses to release them to Congress. The move defies a request from House Democrats and paves the way to a legal battle that will likely end up in the hands of the Supreme Court, per The New York Times.
Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, wrote a letter to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Richard E. Neal, decrying his request for the tax returns and claiming that they have no legal purpose and that he did not have reason to release them.
“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.”
In response, Neal said that he “will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response.”
Before the decision, Mnuchin previously said that his department and the Justice Department needed to review the provision of the tax code that Democrats were harnessing to release Trump’s tax returns to the public. He has also expressed his concern about the request, suggesting that it was made as a political move that could violate taxpayer privacy.
Mnuchin — one of Trump’s most trusted aides — also said that if the IRS releases the president’s tax returns, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers will become vulnerable to similar releases of their financial records. He claims that the demand for Trump’s tax returns is akin to “exposure for the sake of exposure.”
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 6, 2019
The move made it clear that some Democrats are willing to escalate the battle, who cite both the Mueller report and the conviction of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. CNN reports that Texas Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett released a statement confirming this approach.
“On a day when his former fixer heads to jail and his current fixer heads the Department of Justice, President Trump obstructs both Mueller and his tax returns from speaking for themselves. We need immediate legal action. We cannot allow this bad president to set bad precedent.”
Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns has been the subject of much criticism, especially from Democrats. As The Inquisitr reported, Hillary Clinton used her appearance on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show to suggest that a 2020 Democratic nominee could call on China to hack the president’s tax returns. Her comment mirrored Trump’s infamous remark during his 2016 campaign in which he asked Russia to obtain Clinton’s emails — which he later said was a joke.