Trump says he won't give tax returns to Congress as deadline looms

Charles Rettig President Donald Trump's nominee to be Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Capitol Hill

Steve Mnunchin and Maxine Waters Butt Heads Again

Mnuchin said they won't be able to meet the deadline set by the committee, telling Chairman Richard Neal he's consulting with the Department of Justice and making sure "our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution".

"Every president since Nixon has been releasing their taxes and facing an audit simultaneously", Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, tells Fortune, adding that it was Trump's choice to run for president.

Experts disagree, saying nothing prevents him from following a decadeslong tradition of transparency among presidents, though Mr. Trump is digging in for a legal battle over the information.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, the House Ways and Means Committee's deadline for the IRS to turn over six years of his personal and business tax returns, Trump said: "I won't do it".

Waters caught the tactic, and repeated "reclaiming my time" until the committee chairman told Mnuchin to stop.

Republican Trump has consistently refused requests by politicians, journalists and others, stating his reason for not doing so is that the returns are under audit.

Asked about the matter on Wednesday, Trump once again said his tax returns were being audited by the IRS.

"Remember, I got elected last time - the same exact issue", Trump said. There are still questions about whether the committee would issue a subpoena on top of the request or if the request would be grounds enough to trigger a fight in court if the IRS didn't comply.

"We would not ever ask for the White House's permission on this nor did they give us the permission". "It will be embarrassing if I keep this person waiting for a long period of time". Mnuchin may think it is improper or inappropriate - but his refusing to hand over the tax returns would actually violate the law.

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"It is being reviewed by the legal departments, and we look forward to responding to the letter", Mnuchin said.

Democratic Rep. Nydia Velázquez of NY shot back, "And the law says - upon a written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate or the Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the secretary shall furnish".

"I think it's likely to go to the D.C. circuit, but does the Supreme Court want to get into this?"

This is a hard lesson that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin learned on Tuesday when he showed out during his testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee, which Waters leads. He routinely says - as he did Friday - that he's under audit and therefore won't release his returns.

"I understand the stakes are significant, because it involves a president".

Mnuchin had said on Tuesday that Treasury Department lawyers had held "informational" discussions with the White House about an expected request for the returns, a step that Democrats criticized as uncalled for under the law. "And I have the gavel", she said.

Waters asked for Mnuchin to remain for another 10 minutes.

"You are on the receiving end of a very aggressive political campaign by the Trump administration". He also said that he will "follow the law".

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