New York's Senate easily approved a bill Wednesday that would allow three congressional committees to get access to President Donald Trump's state tax returns, giving Democrats a potential end-run around the administration's refusal to disclose the president's federal returns.
Following Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's formal refusal to hand over six years of President Donald Trump's tax returns, progressive groups late Monday urged House Democrats to stop waiting for the administration to comply with the law and immediately subpoena the documents-and hold Mnuchin in contempt of Congress if necessary.
"In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative objective, and pursuant to section 6103, the department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information", Mnuchin wrote.
Democrats initially directed their request to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, the only person with the legal authority to turn over the returns, but Mnuchin has interceded twice in the matter, citing his role overseeing the federal tax collector. "I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response", he said.
Earlier in April, Trump retweeted video footage that shows Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) saying in an interview, "There's no law that says they have to be public", referring to Trump's tax returns. But Treasury missed the deadlines, a strategy Democrats have argued was an effort to delay the process.More news: World markets slump amid US-China trade tensions
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"Ways and Means has no legitimate committee goal for requesting the president's tax returns or return information", Consovoy wrote. The legislation says the treasury secretary "shall furnish" the information to Congress.
"What's unprecedented is this secretary refusing to comply with our lawful. request". While Congress does have broad authority to investigate the Executive Branch, that authority is not unlimited and this is one of the cases where it must be able to articulate why it needs to see the returns beyond merely stating "we want to see them".
The Treasury Secretary went on to claim in the May letter that, contra assertions by House Democrats and legal scholars familiar with the underlying statute, that "the Department may not lawfully fulfill the Committee's request".
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has said he supports legislation allowing the president's tax returns to be made public, but only if it also applies to all state lawmakers and statewide elected officials in NY. "We have enough information and we have enough to help us to guide us moving forward to help us with these subpoenas", Waters said.