Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Treasury lawyers consulted with the White House “about the potential release of President Trump’s tax returns before House Democrats formally requested the records,” reports the Washington Post.
“Mnuchin had not previously revealed that the White House was playing any official role in the Treasury Department’s decision on releasing Trump’s tax returns,” the Post says.
According to the Post, the process of the Congress asking the Treasury directly is designed to “wall off” the White House due to potential interference.
Beginning with Richard Nixon, all presidents have submitted their returns to Congress and the public — but Trump has refused.
Testifying before a House appropriations subcommittee, Mnuchin said he personally had not communicated about the president’s taxes with anyone at the White House, but said “that relates to me, and not everybody at Treasury.”
“I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational,” Mnuchin said. “We had obviously read in the press that we were expecting this. I personally wasn’t involved in those conversations.”
Last week, Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked the IRS for Trump’s returns, “citing federal law that directs the information be disclosed upon request,” the Post says.
Two days later, Trump lawyers told the Treasury Department general counsel not to release the records.
Over the weekend, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Democrats would never obtain the tax returns, though he did not say how he was sure this would be the case,” the Post says.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney contended that the issue “was already litigated during the election.”
“Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns, they knew that he didn’t, and they elected him anyway,” Mulvaney said, “which is, of course, what drives the Democrats crazy.”
At today’s hearing, Mnuchin emphasized the political nature of the tax-returns request, saying Democrats should be happy that Republicans didn’t seek Demcrats’ tax returns before the 2018 midterm elections.
“I am sure there are many prominent Democrats who are relieved,” said Mnuchin, without explaining just who he meant, but adding that “this list could include Democrats in Congress and their financial supporters outside Washington,” says the Post.