Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said Congress will “never” get President Donald Trump’s tax returns, escalating the verbal sparring over an issue Democrats have said is a priority since they took over the House this year, Wall Street Journal reported.
Mulvaney cast House Democrats’ request to the Internal Revenue Service for Trump’s returns as a “political stunt” and said it would be rejected. Trump, breaking with four decades of tradition from presidents and major-party presidential candidates, hasn’t released any tax returns voluntarily.
“That is an issue that was already litigated during the election. Voters knew the President could have given his tax returns and they knew he didn’t. And they elected him anyway, which of course what drives the Democrats crazy,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
He also insisted the IRS wouldn’t release Trump’s returns despite a law that gives Rep. Richard Neal (D., Mass.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the authority to obtain any taxpayer’s returns. “The Democrats are demanding the IRS turn over the documents,” Mulvaney said. “That is not going to happen and they know it.”
Speaking Sunday to NBC News, Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah) said Trump should release his tax returns but predicted Mr. Neal’s effort would fail. “Going after his tax returns through a legislative action is moronic,” Romney said on “Meet the Press.” “That’s not going to happen. The courts are not going to say that you can compel a person running for office to release their tax returns. So he’s going to win this victory.”
The tax law that Neal invoked is clear, and it creates a specific exception to the general rule of taxpayer privacy. If the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee sends a written request for any person’s tax returns, the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” that information to the chairman. Neal and his staff could then review and analyze the returns, and the committee could later vote to release the returns or a report based on them, the Journal adds.
Neal also requested IRS documents related to any audits of Mr. Trump, which would provide far more information than is publicly known about disputes between the tax agency and the President.
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, said on ABC News that Mr. Neal’s inquiry lacks a “legitimate legislative purpose” to pry the President’s tax returns from the IRS.
Neal has said he based his request on the committee’s oversight function, arguing that he has the responsibility to oversee whether the IRS is correctly auditing the President’s returns as the committee considers potential legislation. Rep. Dan Kildee (D., Mich.), who is on Neal’s committee, cited that reason for the request in an appearance on ABC Sunday.
The law that Neal cites, however, provides no penalties for noncompliance and no deadline for the IRS to comply. He is likely to send another letter to the IRS before escalating the matter with a subpoena or lawsuit.
Democrats have wanted Trump to release his returns since he declined to do so during the 2016 election. Neal sought tax documents regarding eight Trump business entities, including five that his committee says represent the core of the President’s business.