Democrats set new deadline on Trump tax returns

Mnuchin's concerns "lack merit", Neal wrote.

Trump broke with 40 years of presidential campaign tradition by declining to release his personal returns before the 2016 election.

The letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig is the latest exchange in a tug of war over Trump's returns, which would give lawmakers far greater insight into the president's business dealings and potential conflicts of interest as it exercises its oversight role.

Federal law gives the chairmen of House Ways and Means, Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation the power to request the returns of any taxpayer, although some legal scholars believe the request needs a legitimate legislative objective, which Democrats say they have met. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded by the deadline saying he needed more time to review the request and consult with the Department of Justice.

Trump earlier falsely claimed that "there's no law whatsoever", requiring him to hand over his taxes to Congress, although the law clearly states the opposite.

Trump lawyer William S. Consovoy argued this week that the order weaponizes the IRS for partisan purposes, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said it "raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority".

Trump had told reporters before Mnuchin sent the letter that he "would love to give" the returns, but would not do so while he was under audit, a stand he long has taken.

A new letter by Rep. Richard Neal, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, comes after the Trump administration asked for more time to consider his initial request last week. "People expect the rule of law to work smoothly, but that" s not always the case". He said that he was under audit and didn't intend to turn anything over until that process had been completed.

With an eye to a legal challenge, Neal told Rettig that he has two weeks to respond - by 5 p.m. on April 23. "Please know that if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request", Neal said in the letter. Neal also could seek the returns through a subpoena.

President Donald Trump arrives at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center on April 10, 2019, in Crosby, Texas. "Given the seriousness of these issues, which bear no connection to ordinary tax administration, we have begun consultations with the Department of Justice to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution".

"For good reason, it would be a gross abuse of power for the majority to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass, and intimidate their political opponents".

  • Joey Payne