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 John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE's tax returns even before they occur.

Four Trump administration sources told Politico that Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhite House confirms new trade talks with China Hillicon Valley: Facebook weighs crackdown on anti-vaccine content | Lyft challenges Trump fuel standards rollback | Illinois tries to woo Amazon | New round of China trade talks next week On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week 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 PascrellCuomo to meet with Trump over SALT deduction cap Dems build case for obtaining Trump's tax returns On The Money: Lawmakers closing in on border deal | Dems build case for Trump tax returns | Trump, Xi won't meet before trade deadline | Waters in talks with Mnuchin for testimony MORE (D-N.J.), a top member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told The Hill in November.