Trump says law '100 percent' on his side in tax return fight

President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' MORE on Friday said the law is "100 percent" on his side in a battle with Democrats over the release of his tax returns.

Trump, who has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns, citing an ongoing audit, expressed confidence that the law would vindicate his position after House Democrats moved to obtain six years of his personal and business tax returns.

ADVERTISEMENT

"That’s up to whoever handles it," he told reporters as he left the White House for a visit to the southern border. "Hey, I’m under audit. But that’s up to whoever it is. From what I understand the law is 100 percent on my side."

It's not clear that the law will protect Trump from having to release his tax returns. 

The IRS has said that audits don’t prevent people from releasing their own tax information, and Democrats are attempting to use a provision in the federal tax code that gives the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees the power to ask for any tax returns and return information and examine them in a closed session.

The statute says that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” the documents, so long as they are reviewed in a closed session. But it’s unclear how quickly the IRS will respond and if they will provide House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? Democratic leaders are much more progressive than you might believe On The Money: Governors rethink opening bars, restaurants amid spike in COVID-19 cases | Spiking cases threaten fragile economic recovery | Supreme Court rules consumer bureau director can be fired at will MORE (D-Mass.) with the documents.

Neal asked the IRS to provide the requested tax returns and related information by Wednesday. Democrats argue that there is no room in the statute for the IRS not to comply and that their request is necessary to conduct oversight of the IRS's enforcement of tax laws against a president.

But congressional Republicans have pushed back on Democrats' request, arguing that it could weaken taxpayer privacy rights, while adding that the request isn't for legitimate purposes and is just a pretext to go after Trump.

When asked Thursday if he would direct the IRS not to disclose his returns, Trump said, "They’ll speak to my lawyers and they’ll speak to the attorney general.”

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Breaking down the June jobs report | The biggest threats facing the recovery | What will the next stimulus bill include? On The Money: Economy adds 4.8M jobs in June | Unemployment to average 6.1 percent through 2030: CBO | Mnuchin says no regrets on pushing to reopen Treasury approves 0 million loan to company being sued for overcharging Pentagon MORE, one of Trump's most loyal Cabinet members, will be at the center of the looming squabble between Democrats and the White House.

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means Committee hearing last month that the Treasury Department would “follow the law and we will protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.”

The Treasury Department has not commented on the tax returns request by Neal.

Trump broke with decades of precedent during the 2016 campaign when he refused to release his tax documents. The president and White House officials have insisted that his taxes are under audit, and therefore cannot be made public.

Democrats have asserted that Trump's tax returns could reveal potential conflicts of interest or improper financial dealings. The party's effort to obtain the documents marks the latest instance of investigations into Trump's administration, campaign and business.

Updated at 11:02 a.m.