WASHINGTON ― U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to say Thursday that he would hand over copies of President Donald Trump’s tax returns in response to a request from congressional Democrats.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) asked Mnuchin directly if he would provide the returns per a longstanding federal law that gives the chairman of the Ways and Means committee the power to make the request.
Mnuchin did not answer the question directly, saying that he would follow the law but not whether he would hand over the documents.
“Based upon the request we will examine it, and we will follow the law,” Mnuchin said from the witness table during a committee hearing.
“I am not aware if there’s ever been a request for an elected official’s tax return but we will follow the law, and we will protect the president as we will protect any individual taxpayer under their rights,” he said.
Democrats vowed last year to seek copies of tax returns if they won control of the House but have not done so since assuming power in January. House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has said the committee’s lawyers have been drafting the request “methodically” in anticipation of a legal fight with Mnuchin.
The federal law allowing this disclosure has been on the books since the 1920s and was created as a check on corruption in the executive branch. It says that if the Ways and Means chair asks for private tax returns, “the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.”
Republicans used the provision in 2014 to obtain and disclose the private tax information of groups seeking nonprofit status with the IRS.
Trump was the first presidential candidate in 40 years not to disclose his tax returns, which can reveal information about his income sources and how much tax he pays. And he’s the first president not to divest from his private business after taking office.
After the hearing, HuffPost asked Mnuchin if complying with the law meant that the Treasury would provide the documents. He said he wouldn’t speculate about it.
“We’ll look at the request when and if it comes in,” Mnuchin said.