Washington”•The Trump administration will miss a Wednesday deadline set by congressional Democrats demanding to see President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the treasury secretary said.
Trump is the first US president since Richard Nixon to refuse to divulge his tax information.
Critics say his refusal seems to suggest he has something to hide.
Democratic Representative Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, sparked a battle last week when he made the request using a little-known provision in the tax code.
Neal said: “It is critical to ensure the accountability of our government and elected officials.”
But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin released a letter Wednesday evening saying he was checking with the Justice Department as to the constitutional issues raised by the Democratic request.
In the letter to the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin wrote: “The Committee’s request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose, and the constitutional rights of American citizens.”
Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, asked Sunday whether Democrats would ever see the returns, was unequivocal.
“Never,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Nor should they.”
Mulvaney asserted that since voters knew ahead of the 2016 election that Trump would not reveal his returns and then elected him anyway, the matter was “already litigated.”
He said that while there are legal provisions for the Internal Revenue Service to turn tax papers over to the Ways and Means Committee — the chief tax-writing committee in the House — a “political” attack is not a valid reason.
Separately, Jay Sekulow, a private attorney for Trump, argued that the Democratic-controlled House was trying to move beyond its constitutionally mandated role of oversight into the realm of law enforcement.
If the Democrats want to know “if the IRS is doing its job auditing the president, they could ask the IRS,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Trump argues that he cannot release his tax returns because they are being audited but the IRS said this is no impediment to their release.