Mnuchin: Government Would Shield Trump Tax Returns from Congress

US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin speaks during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, January 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
NATE CHURCH

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin committed on Thursday to “protect the president” from official demands for his tax returns.

Speaking to Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin said he was “not aware if there’s ever been a request for an elected official’s tax return,” but “we will follow the law and we will protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.”

Committee Chairman Richard Neal is one of the only officials authorized make such a request, and is reportedly expected to do so in a matter of weeks. Until now, Trump has kept a tight lid on both business and personal tax records. While he claimed it was due to an audit, the IRS did in fact say that he was allowed to release them during that process.

The demands to examine President Trump’s financial history reached a lull before the testimony of former Trump attorney and alleged “fixer” Michael Cohen on February 27, who testified that Trump lowered his taxes both by slashing employee wages, and altering the valuation of his assets.

“There’s an awful lot of interest in 6103 today,” Mnuchin said, referring to section 6103 of the U.S. tax code, which states that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” the documents if requested by chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.

While Trump departed from a longstanding tradition of submitting tax returns during his candidacy for president, the pursuit of financial records on a sitting POTUS is unprecedented. Without the cooperation of the only man legally empowered to produce them, Democrats may have a Sisyphean fight on their hands.

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