- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Treasury Department blew through congressional Democrats’ Wednesday deadline for turning over President Trump’s tax returns, with officials saying they want to study the request and figure out if it’s legally sound.

Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said Congress has in the past cautioned itself against demanding an individual’s tax returns for political purposes, and he said they want to think about how this new request would play out.

“The committee’s request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority,” the secretary wrote.

He said all Americans’ rights to be shielded from intrusive demands for their private records are at stake.

Mr. Mnuchin did not give any deadline by which he would reach a conclusion on what to do, saying instead that he’s working with the Justice Department to study the legality.



“The department respects congressional oversight, and we intend to review your request carefully,” he wrote in a letter to Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat leading the push to pry into the president’s taxes.

Mr. Neal said he would talk with House lawyers and decide his next step.

He is trying to flex Section 6103 of the tax code, which gives the chairmen of certain committees the power to demand tax returns of any individual.

The law seems certain, but some legal experts have said Congress’s powers are constrained by legal rulings that require lawmakers to avoid fishing expeditions and instead to have a legitimate investigation underway.

Mr. Neal tried to create that legitimacy, saying he wanted to see Mr. Trump’s taxes in order to find out if the IRS is following its own agency handbook that calls for the president to be audited every year.

That claim has been undercut, though, by other Democrats who said they want the information in order to release it to the public.

Mr. Mnuchin said in his letter he wanted to ponder whether the “asserted legislative purpose” is valid.

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