Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected Friday House Democrats’ subpoenas requesting President Donald Trump’s tax returns, arguing in a letter that the request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”
Mnuchin also maintained he did not have the authority to “disclose the requested returns and return information.”
The Trump administration has defied House subpoenas before. In April, they rejected a request from Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal for six years of tax information about Trump’s personal and business finances.
Neal said he was consulting with counsel about his next move in the fight to get the President’s tax returns.
“Issuance of these subpoenas should not have been necessary. The law provides clear statutory authority for the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee to request and receive access to tax returns and return information. The law, by its terms, does not allow for discretion as to whether to comply with a request for tax returns and return information,” he said on Friday.
The Democratic chairman has also diverged from the practice of holding members of the administration in contempt of Congress, something his fellow chairmen have employed, instead opting out to move the issue to the judiciary.
“I don’t see what good it would do at this particular time. I think if both sides have made up their minds, better to move it to the next branch of government, the judiciary,” Neal noted.
If he chose to go to court, Neal would be able to enforce the subpoena and to enforce IRS statute 6103, giving the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman the authority to request an individual’s tax returns.
Other Democrats on the committee, however, believe that holding Mnuchin in contempt would be the right choice, instead of going to court directly.
“I support moving forward with contempt I support using the inherent power this Congress has whether it is by fine or confinement to use that power and let this administration know that we have a credible alternative,” said Texas Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett. “As long as they think we will be timid about this, they will push the limits and Trump will continue grabbing more and more power.”