Treasury denies request to release Trump's tax returns to Congress

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before a House committee in April

During the 2016 campaign cycle, Trump refused to turn over his tax returns to the public as other candidates did.

The Treasury Department informed Congress on Monday that it will not turn over President Trump's tax returns by a chairman's deadline, leaving Democrats stewing and pondering their next step.

On April 3, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) formally requested Trump's tax returns, citing a provision in the tax code that empowers the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to request a president's tax returns.

Mnuchin sent his letter to Neal just hours after the House Judiciary Committee scheduled a Wednesday vote on whether to hold Trump Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller report.

The move, which was expected, is sure to set in motion a legal battle over Trump's tax returns.

In a Monday statement, Neal said that he would "consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response".

In his April 23 letter to Neal, Mnuchin wrote "we expect to provide the Committee with a final decision by May 6, after receiving the Justice Department's legal conclusions".

Trump vows new tariff hike on Chinese goods
The threat , conveyed via Twitter , dashed expectations that the two biggest economies might forge a deal in talks this week. The US government hit China with the most extensive tariffs, starting a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

At the same time, he has not divested from his global business holdings, exposing him to accusations of potential conflicts of interest in conducting U.S. affairs. The chief options available to Democrats now are to subpoena the IRS for the returns or to file a lawsuit.

In his new letter, he said that "In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative goal, and.the Department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information".

"We are under audit, despite what people said, and working that out", Trump told reporters at the White House. He concluded that the department was "not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information".

Democrats rejected Mnuchin's argument and promised to continue pressing for the tax returns.

Democrats have said obtaining the tax returns is necessary for them to perform their oversight duties, but Mnuchin has said repeatedly that their request for these records could be an invasion of Trump's privacy and become a fishing expedition. "What's unprecedented is a Justice Department that again sees its role as being bodyguard to the executive and not the rule of law", said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.

"Is that all? Usually, it's 10", Trump said.

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