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 TrumpTrump conversation with foreign leader part of complaint that led to standoff between intel chief, Congress: report Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Trump to withdraw FEMA chief nominee: report MORE's tax returns even before they occur.

Four Trump administration sources told Politico that Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump, Graham clash over Iran policy Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran 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 PascrellOn The Money: Senate panel scraps vote on key spending bill amid standoff | Democrats threaten to vote against defense bill over wall funding | Trump set to meet with aides about reducing capital gains taxes GOP lawmaker calls for investigation into CNN spy story Ocasio-Cortez renews impeachment call amid probe involving Trump's Scotland property MORE (D-N.J.), a top member of the House Ways and Means Committee, told The Hill in November.