House Democrats set 5:00 PM ET today as the deadline for the IRS to turn over Donald Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, but don’t hold your breath. The Treasury Department, headed by Steve Mnuchin, has assumed responsibility for the request and has already declined to turn over the records, but without issuing a flat-out rejection. In response, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal sent the IRS a letter stating that failure to fulfill the request by later today would be “interpreted as a denial of my request.”
Neal has the statutory authority to request Trump’s tax returns under a 1924 law stating that the treasury secretary “shall” turn over any tax returns requested by the Ways and Means chairperson. Republicans repeatedly made use of the law during Barack Obama’s presidency as they sought to make the case that the IRS had unfairly targeted conservative groups. It hadn’t, but that didn’t stop GOP lawmakers from obtaining the tax returns of several dozen organizations and publicly releasing them.
But what the statute dictates and how Republicans have wielded it in the past are of no concern to Trump, who truly believes he’s above the law as a sitting pr*sident. Trump’s White House and personal lawyers have sought to block every single oversight effort made by House Democrats, including suing House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings to block Trump’s accounting firm from releasing Trump’s financial records to Congress. Cummings had submitted a friendly subpoena to the firm, Mazars USA, which had indicated it would cooperate with congressional investigators.
Democrats’ efforts to secure six years of Trump’s tax returns is almost surely headed toward a subpoena fight as well. Remember this:
This I say with considerable conviction: the release of Trump's tax returns would be the end of his presidency.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) April 9, 2019