Trump tax returns: Mnuchin says Treasury trying to find out who wrote IRS memo

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinWhite House, Democrats edge closer to deal on trade Pelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors World Bank approves billion-plus annual China lending plan despite US objections MORE on Wednesday said that the department is trying to find out who wrote a draft IRS memo that found that the agency has to provide tax returns to Congress unless executive privilege is invoked.

The memo does not mention President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE's tax returns, but it could be used by Democrats to argue the administration is wrong not to turn over those documents to congressional panels with jurisdiction on taxes.

“We're trying to find out who wrote the memo, where it came from, when it was and why it wasn't distributed," Mnuchin said at a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mnuchin last week rejected a subpoena from House Democrats for six years of Trump's tax returns, saying their request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose. 

The rejection of the subpoena came after Mnuchin rejected Democrats' request for the tax returns made under a section of the tax code that states that the Treasury secretary “shall furnish” returns requested by the chairmen of congressional tax committees.

A draft IRS memo written by an attorney in the chief counsel's office last fall, reported on by the Washington Post Tuesday evening, said that the chairmen of Congress’s tax committees don't need to provide a reason for requesting tax returns and that the Treasury secretary doesn't have discretion.

Mnuchin in response to questions from Rep. Jennifer WextonJennifer Lynn WextonDemocrat unveils bill requiring banks to identify suspicious activity related to guns Newly-elected official feels 'stronger' than she did when she flipped off Trump's motorcade Ben Carson says political correctness will 'destroy our nation' when pressed on reported transgender remarks MORE (D-Va.) said he doesn't believe it's the case that the memo contradicts his conclusion not to comply with Democrats' demands for Trump's tax returns.

“That memo I understand is addressing a different issue and is not addressing the issue that we and the Department of Justice looked at,” he said.

Mnuchin said he only became aware of the memo this week “when we got an inquiry from The Washington Post.” He said he doesn't know who wrote it.

Mnuchin said that he hasn't thoroughly reviewed the memo.

“I looked at it literally on the way up here,” he said. “Someone handed me the printed copy of it. I would not describe that as I've reviewed it.”

He also reiterated that he's had no discussions with Trump about the tax-returns issue.

“I've had no conversations ever with the president or anyone in the White House about delivering the president's tax returns to Congress,” he said.