Although House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal issued subpoenas to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig last week — demanding President Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns — it doesn’t look like Democrats will get their hands on them anytime soon.
The Hill reports that the Treasury Department and IRS are set to miss the Friday 5 p.m. deadline, and both Democrats and Republicans seem to accept that a legal battle is the next step.
Mnuchin suggested Wednesday that he will reject the subpoena, criticized the demand as a “weaponization of the IRS,” and made it clear that Republicans are prepared for a legal battle, per Politico.
“We haven’t made a decision, but I think you can guess which way we’re leaning on our subpoena.”
“There is a difference in interpretation between Congress and us and the Department of Justice around this law,” he said. “This is why there are three branches of government so if there is a difference of opinion this will go to the third branch of government to be resolved.”
By failing to release his tax returns, Trump has broken a decades-old tradition of presidents and presidential contenders, which Democrats believe is a sign that his financial records hold information he doesn’t want the public to see. But Republicans believe that Democrats are seeking the public release of the records simply to embarrass the president ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Although Democrats could obtain Trump’s New York state tax returns if the state enacts a law that would give three congressional committees access to the president’s state tax returns, The Hill reports that Neal might opt against this option.
“Our request is in furtherance of the committee’s investigation into the mandatory presidential audit program and to decide whether that program needs to be codified into federal law,” Neal spokesman Dan Rubin said, adding that state returns would not help this investigation.
Earlier this month, an investigation by The New York Times used information provided by federal printouts from the president’s official IRS transcripts spanning 1985 to 1994 to reveal the alleged extent of his financial woes during this time period.
As The Inquisitr reported, the publisher violated federal law by doing so, and opened up potential legal problems for both the company and the person that leaked the information. However, The Daily Signal suggests that — judging by some past precedents — The New York Times might be able to dodge charges, thanks to protections afforded by the First Amendment.