House Democrats Respond to Mnuchin’s Tax Return Denial with Subpoenas, Set a New Deadline

Barbara Underwood lawsuit Trump tax plan

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has responded to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin‘s denial of a demand to hand over President Donald Trump‘s tax returns by subpoenaing Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

They have given them until next Friday, May 17, to comply with the latest demand.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” Neal said. “I sincerely hope that the Treasury Department will furnish the requested material in the next week so the committee can quickly begin its work.”

“Under the internal Revenue Manual, individual income tax returns of a President are subject to mandatory examination, but this practice is IRS policy and not codified in the Federal tax laws,” Neal has described the purpose of his request. “It is necessary for the Committee to determine the scope of any such examination and whether it includes a review of underlying business activities required to be reported on the individual income tax return.”

Mnuchin previously said that Democrats lack a “legitimate legislative purpose” for demanding and obtaining Trump’s tax returns.

Mnuchin wrote a letter to Neal on Monday to say that the “Committee’s request is unprecedented” and “presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers.”

Mnuchin added that the “Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requires that Congressional information demands must reasonably serve a legitimate legislative purpose.”

It seems likely that Mnuchin and Rettig will make the same argument again.

This strategy has been deployed in other recent Trump legal proceedings. In the Deutsche Bank case, for instance, Trump lawyers said “At best, the Committees seek these documents so they can conduct law-enforcement activities that the Supreme Court has held are reserved to the other branches.”

“More likely, though, the Committees want to collect and ‘expose’ the financial documents of the President—and his children and grandchildren—’for the sake of exposure,'” they added.

[Image via Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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