As expected, Donald Trump is not going to furnish House Democrats with his tax returns, telling reporters on Wednesday (per The Hill), “I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit.” We have noted before, though, that experts say tax returns can be released even when an individual is under audit.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) directed the request to the IRS using a 1924 law, but even under these conditions, the presidential pustule is still managing to avoid having his tax returns handed over. The Hill report today that the “agency has given no indication that it will meet that deadline.”
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has been very vague as to the Treasury Department’s response to Neal’s request, which set April 10 as the deadline for the provision of Trump’s tax returns. He told CNN on Tuesday, “In general, we try to accommodate these requests. I’m not going to make a specific comment on that, but it would be a good guess.”
Mnuchin also told the Financial Services Committee on Tuesday that he would “comply with the law,” but did not further say that he would hand over the tax returns.
Once again, Republicans are challenging rule of law and executive norms whenever possible, as presidents have been releasing their tax returns for decades. The system of checks and balances, it seems, has disintegrated completely under a leadership that has no regard for any goals other than its own. As the White House and their allies dig their heels in, the question of whether Trump has anything to hide feels like it’s being answered, but not in a way that will lead to any consequences until after a possible lengthy court battle. The 1924 law in question has never been challenged in court, and this is the first time it is being used to compel the provision of the president’s tax returns.
Neal plans to send a written follow-up request before further action, according to CNN, but Democrats are anticipating a bull-headed fight from the opposition on this.
“They want to rig this thing,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) told CNN. “They’ve already started to do that. Their excuses for not giving them up are the most hypocritical I have ever heard of any subject in the Congress, and I’ve been here 22 years. ... They’re trying to rig it? Good. We’re ready for you.”
He added, “I am smacking my lips on this one, and America should be also.”