Saturday, April 13, 2019

A Sternly Worded Letter

House Democrats are giving Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin until April 23 to turn over Trump's tax returns or...well, they'll probably write him another letter.

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) on Saturday sent a two-page letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig rebuffing Mnuchin’s statement earlier this week that Treasury would miss House Democrats’ initial April 10 deadline for the returns.

Mnuchin’s concerns “lack merit,” Neal wrote.

Neal’s latest letter sets the stage for a further escalation in the conflict between Congress and the White House, as legal experts have suggested that an outright denial of their request by Mnuchin could be followed by subpoenas or a lawsuit in federal court. Mnuchin so far has only postponed responding to Democrats’ request and said he would confer with the Justice Department, but not yet rejected it.

“Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request,” Neal’s letter states.

Earlier this month, Neal wrote the IRS asking for six years of the president’s personal and business tax returns, which Trump has refused to release breaking decades of precedent for candidates for the White House. In his letter, Neal argues that the IRS has an “unambiguous legal obligation" to turn over the returns under section 6103 of the tax code, which states that the treasury secretary “shall furnish” a request from the congressional committees with tax oversight.

Congressional Republicans and Trump’s personal attorney, William S. Consovoy, have argued Democrats’ request risks weaponizing the IRS for partisan political gain, with Consovoy calling it a “gross abuse of power.” Mnuchin’s letter earlier this week said Neal’s request “raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority.”

Mnuchin revealed in congressional testimony that White House lawyers consulted with Treasury on Trump's tax returns.

“It is not the proper function of the IRS, Treasury, or Justice to question or second guess the motivations of the committee,” Neal writes in his letter. “Judicial precedent commands that none of the concerns raised can legitimately be used to deny the committee’s request.”

Let's get one thing straight right now: all the analysis about Stephen Mnuchin going to jail for violating the law is never, ever going to happen. When this nonsense plays out in ten days, we'll get to the part where Trump finds a federal judge or two to throw out an injunction on anything that might happen to Mnuchin while this goes to SCOTUS as slowly as possible.

This will be tied up in the courts until at least 2021, if not years later.

We will not see Trump's tax returns.

We're going to have to take care of Trump ourselves.

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