Mnuchin: Treasury will consult with DOJ on Trump's tax returns

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations Treasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program MORE on Wednesday said it is "appropriate" for department lawyers to discuss a Democratic request for President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE's tax returns with the White House counsel, and that Treasury will also consult with the Justice Department on the topic.

"This isn't just about the president's return," Mnuchin said on CNBC. "This is really about the issue of protecting American taxpayers and make sure that we enforce the laws correctly."

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"As I've said, we will follow the law," he added. "But this is a very important issue. This isn't just about the president and congressional oversight."

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTreasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate MORE (D-Mass.) last week requested that the IRS provide six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns. He asked the agency to provide the returns to the committee by Wednesday.

Democrats have long sought to get at the tax returns for Trump, who in 2016 became the first major-party presidential nominee in decades to refuse to release them.

“I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. The IRS has said that audits in no way prevent taxpayers from disclosing their tax data publicly.

As head of the agency that includes the IRS, Mnuchin is being closely watched to see how the administration responds to the request.

During hearings on Tuesday, Mnuchin said that department lawyers had discussions with White House lawyers about the tax-returns issue before Neal formally sent his request. He also said that he has not personally discussed the topic with anyone in the White House.

Mnuchin on CNBC defended the White House-Treasury communications.

"I don't know why this should be big news at all, and I went out of my way of being clear, although that I had not had any discussions, I wanted to be very clear," he said.

He called the tax return matter a "significant legal issue" and said that Treasury isn't taking direction from the White House.