Mnuchin Says Treasury Consulted with WH on Trump Tax Returns

Ann Santiago
April 11, 2019

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that Treasury Department lawyers had held "informational" discussions with the White House about an expected request from House Democrats for President Donald Trump's tax returns.

Trump told reporters at the White House that "I would love to give them, but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit".

"Remember, I got elected last time - the same exact issue", Trump said.

"It is being reviewed by the legal departments, and we look forward to responding to the letter", Mnuchin said.

Mnuchin also revealed that Treasury Department lawyers have talked to the White House counsel's office about the question of releasing Trump's returns, telling lawmakers that the consultations occurred before the request arrived last week. We have no evidence that there's any wrongdoing, " said Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, who said the request tramples on Trump's right to privacy.

"We would never ask for the White House's permission on this, " Mnuchin said.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee's deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of his personal and business tax returns, Trump said: "I won't do it".

"I want to be very clear and not be misleading". Tax and legal experts have said, however, that an audit should not prevent their public release, a practice presidents have followed for decades.

At the end of a three-and-half-hour testimony before the House Appropriations Committee and Financial Services Committee, which is chaired by Waters, Mnuchin interrupted the hearing to remind the committee of a prior agreement that he would be able to leave by 5 p.m.

"I think that there was any communication with the White House about this is deeply troubling and certainly violates the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law, and I think we need to get to the bottom of this", she told Mnuchin at the afternoon hearing.

Congress released private tax information during the Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon and during the more recent allegations that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups during President Barack Obama's administration.

The pair continued to spar for another minute or so-an exchange punctuated with Mnuchin imitating Waters using her gavel.

"I am unable to discuss that with you at this moment", Rettig told CNN after the hearing. "It will be embarrassing if I keep this person waiting", he said, per CNN. This is a new way and it is a new day and it is a new chair.

Waters then cut in, offering that Mnuchin was free to leave whenever he wished, but Mnuchin pushed further, appearing to ask for official permission to leave.

After Waters proceeded to continue with the hearing, Mnuchin again chimed in to clarify whether or not Waters was "instructing" him to stay, and therefore, cancel his meeting.

"Well then, please dismiss everybody". Neal made a case for this in his letter, writing that the request was part of his committee's oversight role, with the objective of determining whether the IRS is fairly and impartially auditing Trump. The president's outside attorney also did not respond to a request for comment.

During the 2016 campaign, Rettig defended Trump's decision to break with tradition by refusing to release his tax filings.

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