Trump tax returns: Steven Mnuchin refuses to comply with subpoena

May 18, 2019 Off By readly




The US treasury secretary defied a House subpoena for Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, setting up another potential court battle between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

Steven Mnuchin said in a letter that the subpoena from the House ways and means committee chairman, Richard Neal, a Democrat, was “unprecedented” and “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose”.

When Neal issued the subpoena on 10 May, he noted in a letter that the Internal Revenue Service had an “unambiguous legal obligation” to comply with his committee’s requests for information, noting that such a request “never has been denied”.

Mnuchin’s rejection of the subpoena had been expected. Earlier on Friday, Neal had said: “We will likely proceed to court as quickly as next week.”

Asked if he might seek to hold Mnuchin in contempt of Congress for his refusal to supply the tax returns, Neal said: “I don’t see that right now as an option. I think that the better option for us is to proceed with a court case.”

Democrats are seeking Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law that directs the IRS to furnish such information when requested to the chairs of Congress’ tax-writing committees.

“The law, by its terms, does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns and return information,” Neal said in a statement after Mnuchin’s decision was announced. “Given the Treasury Secretary’s failure to comply today, I am consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward.”

With the exception of Trump, every president since Richard Nixon has made his tax returns public.

In a tweet on 10 May, Trump said that he had won the presidency in 2016 “partially based on no Tax Returns while I am under audit (which I still am), and the voters didn’t care. Now the Radical Left Democrats want to again relitigate the matter. Make it part of the 2020 Election!”

When he issued the subpoena last week, Neal said he was seeking six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS was doing its job properly to audit a sitting president and whether the law governing such audits needed to be strengthened.

In his letter Friday saying he would not comply with the subpoena, Mnuchin said he had consulted with the justice department and had been advised that he was not authorized to turn over the tax returns because Neal’s request did not represent a legitimate congressional purpose.

The fight with Congress over Trump’s tax returns is one of a number of battles House Democrats are having with the administration over the release of information. The House judiciary committee has voted to hold the attorney general, William Barr, in contempt and is fighting to obtain an unredacted report prepared by the special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Source of this (above) article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/17/steven-mnuchin-trump-tax-return-subpoena-refuse-comply-democrats