Senate Dem presses Treasury, IRS over demand for Trump tax returns

Senate Dem presses Treasury, IRS over demand for Trump tax returns
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle Momentum grows to create 'Do Not Track' registry Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday MORE (D-Ore.), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, is pressing the Trump administration over its handling of a request from House Democrats for President TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE's tax returns.

Wyden sent letters to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Democrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle No agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess MORE and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on Tuesday after Mnuchin recently denied a request from the Democratic-led House Ways and Means Committee for Trump's tax information.

The Democratic senator said in a statement that he sent the letters in order to investigate whether there was any political interference involved in the administration's decision to reject the request.

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“The law is crystal clear. Congress has the authority to request President Trump’s tax returns, and the administration has refused to follow the law," Wyden said. "Congress needs to know whether, and to what extent, political interference played a role in an administration failing to comply with a lawful request for taxpayer information under section 6103.”

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle On The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency Bill allowing Congress to obtain Trump's New York tax returns heads to governor's desk MORE (D-Mass.) on April 3 requested six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns from the IRS. He made the request under section 6103(f) of the tax code, which states that the Treasury secretary "shall furnish" tax returns requested by the chairmen of Congress's tax committees, so long as they are examined in a closed session.

Mnuchin rejected the request on May 6, arguing that it lacked a legitimate legislative purpose. Neal then sent Mnuchin and Rettig subpoenas for Trump's tax returns, directing the administration officials to produce the documents by Friday at 5 p.m.

Wyden on Tuesday expressed concerns about some of Mnuchin's actions, such as supervising the administration's response to the request even though Treasury has delegated tax administration matters to the IRS.

"I am concerned that you are failing to apply the law consistently with the statutory text and legislative practice," Wyden wrote to the Treasury secretary.

Wyden also expressed concerns that Mnuchin's response to House Democrats who had requested Trump's tax returns will hurt the ability of lawmakers to receive tax return information in the future for investigations.

"By calling compliance with Chairman Neal's request unlawful, you imply that Treasury has the burden of determining the legislative purpose behind every congressional request under section 6103(f)," Wyden said.

Wyden asked Mnuchin to provide him with copies of Treasury and IRS communications relating to Neal's request, including any communications Treasury and the IRS transmiSenate Appropriations Subcommitteeon Financial Services and General Governmenttted to or received from the White House.

In a separate letter, Wyden asked Rettig about an exchange during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on April 9. During the exchange, Rep. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyLightfoot takes office as Chicago's first black woman mayor 5 things to watch as Trump, Dems clash over investigations Senate Dem presses Treasury, IRS over demand for Trump tax returns MORE (D-Ill.) asked Rettig if IRS legal experts had told him whether he has discretion to comply with the request, and Rettig replied that he hadn't asked.

Wyden pressed the IRS chief about any communications that he had with IRS legal staff about congressional tax return requests prior to the hearing.

Mnuchin and Rettig are both scheduled to testify at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.