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

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Bloomberg proposes financial transaction tax GOP senators offering bill to cement business provision in Trump tax law 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 TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll 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.

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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 WextonPelosi invites head of disability advocacy group to State of the Union Giffords gun reform group backs eight 'strong women' in House reelection bids Virginia governor seeking to remove Robert E. Lee statue from US Capitol 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.