Democratic senator questions IRS commissioner over tax returns memo

Democratic senator questions IRS commissioner over tax returns memo
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Senate passes bipartisan IRS modernization bill MORE (D-Ore.) sent a letter to the IRS commissioner Wednesday about a confidential memo that reportedly contradicts the Trump administration's reasons for not complying with a congressional subpoena for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE's tax returns. 

Wyden wrote a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig asking him a series of questions including about when he first became aware of the memo that was reported last month by The Washington Post and who else in the IRS knew about it. 

The Oregon Democrat said in his letter to Rettig that the commissioner, in testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee, "intimated that you had not discussed with IRS legal staff whether you as IRS Commissioner have discretion over whether to comply with a request for tax information."

Wyden added that the reported existence of the memo, which was prepared in 2018, according to the Post, "may have significant implications on your House Appropriations subcommittee testimony" and his prior response to a letter by Wyden. 

Wyden said in a statement that “Congress needs to investigate to know whether Trump appointees have engaged in a cover up to conceal political interference inside the IRS." 

"Career IRS officials prepared a legal analysis stating that the agency was required to provide the returns, and it was buried. We need to know who saw this memo and when," he added. 

The draft memo written by an IRS lawyer last fall determined that the agency has to provide tax returns that are requested by Congress unless the president invokes executive privilege. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinSchiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns Schiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill MORE last month rejected a subpoena for the president's tax returns. He has said the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.

President Trump has not invoked executive privilege over his tax returns, according to officials. 

The Hill has reached out to the IRS for comment.