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Treasury plans steps to stymie Dem requests for Trump tax returns

Officials at the White House and Treasury Department are reportedly working to stymie any requests from Democratic lawmakers for President TrumpDonald TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump MORE's tax returns even before they occur.

Four Trump administration sources told Politico that Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinBiden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision Biden brings back bipartisan meetings at the White House On The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears MORE plans to hinge his arguments against providing the president's past tax returns to Democrats based on the assertion that Democrats would be unable to prevent the leak of Trump's returns — a felony — from occurring.

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Publicly, the administration plans to cast requests for Trump's returns as a blatant partisan attack against the president in the hopes of turning public opinion against the newly elected House Democratic majority.

Sources told Politico that such a strategy could tie the struggle for Trump's tax returns up in lengthy court battles that stretch well into the 2020 campaign.

A Treasury Department spokeswoman told the news outlet that Mnuchin would "review any request [from Democrats] with the Treasury General Counsel for legality.”

One former chief of staff on the House Joint Committee on Taxation told the news outlet that such a refusal from Mnuchin to House Democrats would throw House committees into "uncharted territory."

“What happens if the Treasury secretary just doesn’t answer or sends back a note saying we refuse to do what you are saying?” said George Yin, currently a professor of law and taxation at the University of Virginia. “To my knowledge, that has never happened."

"We are essentially in uncharted territory if he refuses," Yin added.

Key Democrats told The Hill last year that obtaining the president's tax returns and scouring them for evidence of illegal activity would be one of many priorities for the incoming majority.

“What we’re doing here is doing our duty as a legislative branch of government, by checking the potential, possible conflicts of interest in the executive branch of government,” said Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellNJ lawmakers ask Gannett to stop 'union-busting' efforts at 3 state newspapers Biden cautious in making Trump tax returns decision Democrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic MORE (D-N.J.), a top member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told The Hill in November.