Mnuchin Balked on Trump's Tax Returns. Watchdog: OK

Treasury sec's decision was based on DOJ advice, which acting Treasury IG didn't comment on
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 11, 2020 5:30 AM CDT
Watchdog: OK Mnuchin Won't Hand Over Trump Tax Returns
President Trump listens as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks during a conference call with banks on efforts to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic at the White House on Tuesday in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A watchdog has found that the Treasury Department appropriately handled Congress' request for President Trump's tax returns, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to provide. Rep. Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, asked acting inspector general for the Treasury, Rich Delmar, last fall to probe how Treasury received, assessed, and responded to Neal's earlier request for six years of Trump's tax returns. In a letter Wednesday to senior House lawmakers, Delmar found that Treasury processed the request properly, sought legal guidance from the DOJ, determined that it was bound by that guidance, and, based on that advice, decided not to provide the tax info. But Delmar said he had no opinion on whether the advice Mnuchin followed—which came from DOJ attorneys—was itself well-founded, per the AP.

The DOJ legal opinion backed Mnuchin's refusal, saying that Neal's request lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and was an "unprecedented" use of congressional authority. In the long-running legal battle over Trump's records, Neal cited a 1924 law that says the Treasury secretary "shall furnish" tax returns to any of the three congressional officers empowered to obtain them, one of whom is the Ways and Means Committee chair. Neal has said the records are needed because the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of all sitting presidents. The fight between Democrats and Trump dates back to the 2016 election campaign, when Trump claimed that he couldn't release them because he was under IRS audit.

(Read more President Trump stories.)

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