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Trump attorney says Congress can't act like a "junior-varsity IRS" in requesting tax returns

N.Y. bill targets Trump's tax returns

One of President Trump's personal attorneys lambasted congressional Democrats for their intensifying efforts to obtain the president's tax returns, saying lawmakers should not act like a "junior-varsity" Internal Revenue Service (IRS).   

"Congress has no constitutional authority to act like a junior-varsity IRS, rerunning individual examinations or flyspecking the agency's calculations," Will Consovoy wrote in a letter on Monday addressed to the Treasury Department's general counsel, Brent McIntosh.

Consovoy, who is representing Mr. Trump in his ongoing standoff with Democratic lawmakers over his tax information, accused the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Rep. Richard Neal, a Democrat from Massachusetts, of trying to use a "constitutional authority" Congress does not possess in his request for six years of the president's tax returns. 

When the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS, failed to comply with Neal's initial April 10 deadline to turn over the president's tax returns, Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Democrats' demand represented an "unprecedented" move that raises questions about the scope of Congress' "investigative authority" and lawmakers' "legislative purpose." 

Over the weekend, Neal set a new deadline — on April 23 — for the IRS to furnish Mr. Trump's tax information. The Massachusetts Democrat warned that he would deem the Treasury Department's failure to comply with his deadline a "denial" of his committee's request. 

Mnuchin has said the Treasury Department is consulting with the Justice Department — a move requested by Consovoy — to determine whether the request for Mr. Trump's tax returns is legal and constitutional. He pledged to review the request "carefully," but did not provide a timeline for doing so. 

Earlier this month, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney vowed Democrats would "never" see Mr. Trump's tax returns. While the president has repeatedly said he would not release his tax information until an audit is completed — a pretext he has used on multiple occasions. 

Citing the White House "stonewalling" of a request by congressional Democrats, Democratic lawmakers in New York's state legislature are spearheading a new effort to try to release the president's state tax information to Congress. The measure is backed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as by leadership in the New York legislature, where Democrats have majorities in both chambers.

Major Garret contributed this report. 

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