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Treasury Dept. Dismisses House Democrat’s Inquiry, Tells Him Not to Expect Response to ‘Further Tantrums’

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The U.S. Department of Treasury last month appeared to take great offense to a House Democrat’s written inquiry about the department’s decision to turn over Hunter Biden’s confidential financial information while refusing to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns.

In a contentious Feb. 6 letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) asked whether the department had provided Senate Republicans with “highly sensitive financial records of the son of a Democratic candidate for President” in their pursuit of “a baseless investigation.”

Pascrell was referring to the department complying with a Senate Committee’s request for “all Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and related documents” pertaining to Biden, his associates, and Burisma Holdings.

“Your involvement in a nakedly political probe is unacceptable,” Pascrell wrote, “but made far worse when compared beside your adamant refusal to obey the law under 26 U.S C. 6103(f) by providing Donald Trump’s tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee pursuant to his request.”

Pascrell also said the Treasury’s reasoning for refusing Democrats’ requests was hypocritical.

“In obstructing the House Ways and Means Committee’s investigation into Donald Trump’s shady financial background, you have erroneously cited that the committee’s request for Trump’s business and personal tax returns ‘lacks a legitimate legislative purpose,’” he wrote. “Using your own standard, what legitimate legislative purpose is fulfilled by providing the records of Mr. Biden to members of the Senate?”

As previously reported by Law&Crime, Mnuchin was grilled about his decision-making when he testified before the Senate Finance Committee last month.

Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Brian McGuire responded in a Feb. 25 letter saying Pascrell’s allegations were “unsubstantiated and inappropriate.”

After briefly addressing Pascrell’s concerns by referencing an enclosed copy of Treasury correspondence and a publicly available Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion, McGuire informed Pascrell that the department would no longer respond to “further tantrums.”

“The false, intemperate attacks in your most recent letter extend far beyond your political opponents and insult the thousands of hardworking public servants at the Treasury Department,” McGuire wrote. “We ask that any future correspondence from you accord the Department the basic respect and civility that we consistently show all Members of Congress. In the future, you should not expect a response from the Department to further tantrums from your office.”

On Tuesday, Pascrell posted his letter and Treasury’s response on Twitter.

“When I wrote to Mnuchin on rampant corruption in his department, his flunky wrote back that I was ‘intemperate.’ Being lectured on civility from someone who works for donald trump is like taking chivalry lessons from Jack the Ripper,” Pascrell said. “It’s impossible to be polite to corruption.”

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.