Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says it's his department's "intent to follow the law" in responding to the request by House Democrats to release President Trump's tax returns. During a budget hearing on Capitol Hill, Mnuchin was asked by Rep. Mike Quigley, (D-Illinois) if he would be involved in the decision on whether to release the returns in light of a request by the House Ways and Means Committee. Quigley cited a "longstanding (IRS) delegation order that the secretary does not get involved in taxpayer specific manners."
Mnuchin said he was "not surprised" by the question and said it was "better we get this out."
"I want to acknowledge we did receive the request and as I've said in the past when we received the request, it would be reviewed by our legal department, and it is our intent to follow the law. And that is in the process of being reviewed," Mnuchin stated.
Last week, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal sent a formal request to the IRS for six years of Mr. Trump's tax returns, arguing the committee "has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary Federal tax system and determine how Americans — including those elected to our highest office — are complying with those laws."
The president responded by saying he's under audit — which he has consistently said when asked — and "would not be inclined" to release his returns until the audit is completed. Individuals under audit are free to release their tax returns.
Asked if he would personally be reviewing the request, Mnuchin testified that it would be "premature" to reveal just what the legal team would be reviewing or not reviewing. He later told the committee that he had not spoken to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney or the president about the decision to review the Democrats' request, despite" that Democrats would "never" obtain Mr. Trump's tax returns.
"I personally have not had any communication with anybody in the White House, that relates to me and not everybody at treasury," said Mnuchin.
Mnuchin meanwhile said Treasury's legal department had spoken to the White House general counsel about news reports that the House Ways and Means' request was forthcoming.
"The communication between the legal department and the White House general counsel was informational, that we obviously had read in the press that we were expecting this," said Mnuchin. He added, "It was widely advertised in the press beforehand so this wasn't exactly a state secret that we thought we'd be getting it."