Monday, May 6, 2019
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin today wrote to House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal that the Treasury Department would not turn over President Trump's 2013-2018 taxes, as earlier requested by Neal.
Mnuchin argues that Neal's request lacks "a legitimate legislative purpose," a common administration argument in every case where it has declined to comply with a House request or subpoena.
Neal requested the returns pursuant to his authority under 26 U.S.C. Sec. 6103(f), which states,
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives . . . the Secretary [of Treasury] shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.
Despite the "shall," Mnuchin writes that Congress's power "is bounded by Congress's authority under the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires that Congressional information demands must reasonably serve a legitimate legislative purpose."
With no small amount of chutzpah, Mnuchin writes that "on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose . . . ."
Mnuchin says that a DOJ legal memo is forthcoming.