The Trump administration will not meet an April 10 deadline issued by the House Ways and Means committee for President Trump’s tax returns, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin wrote in a letter to Congress Wednesday.
“The committee requests the materials by April 10, but the Treasury Department will not be able to complete its review of your request by that date,” Mnuchin wrote.
Secretary Mnuchin’s response to Chairman Neal’s letter requesting President Trump’s tax returns: pic.twitter.com/X2VsDYKpYh
— Tony Sayegh (@TreasurySpox) April 10, 2019
“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,” Mnuchin added in the letter. A refusal will likely set the stage for a court battle over the House’s request.
The response came after Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the Ways and Means Committee chair, sent a request for six years of Trump’s business and personal tax returns — as well as IRS processing information — on April 3.
Neal had faced mounting pressure from liberal members of his committee and from activist groups demanding that he issue the request, made under a 1924 law that empowers the heads of three congressional committees to request the returns of any filer.
The Ways and Means chair — known for a cautious temperament — tailored the letter for review by a judge during litigation that would follow the Trump administration’s anticipated refusal, saying that the House needs the president’s tax information — and the IRS’s information on its processing of the president’s taxes — to determine if he is being given an undue advantage thanks to his office.
In the letter, Mnuchin references Neal’s preparation for the request, writing that “you too have acknowledged the unprecedented nature of the request.”
The Treasury secretary adds that “given the seriousness of the issues, which bear no connection to ordinary tax administration, we have begun consultations with the Department of Justice to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution.”
Mnuchin concludes the letter by saying that he will oversee the request moving forward, citing “taxpayer protections” as an animating concern.
In the days leading up to Wednesday’s response, both Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig gave nonspecific accounts during testimony before the House and the Senate about who would reply to Neal.
“It is my responsibility to supervise the [IRS] commissioner,” Mnuchin said on April 9 in testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee.
“The decision is mine, with the supervision of the Treasury,” said a nervous Rettig on the same day as Mnuchin, before the same House subcommittee.