Treasury Secretary Mnuchin denies House Dem's request for Trump's tax returns

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President Donald Trump speaks during the presentation of the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point football team in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, May 6, 2019, in Washington.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin rejected a request from the House Ways and Means Committee for six years of Trump's tax returns on Monday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter Monday, denied House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal's request for President Trump's tax returns, saying the request lacked a "legitimate legislative goal".

Mr Mnuchin said he relied on the advice of the Justice Department in reaching the conclusion that the Treasury Department is "not authorised to disclose the requested returns and return information".

Consovoy wrote that Neal's request for the tax returns flouts "fundamental constitutional constraints", is driven by an intent to score political points, and would set a risky precedent if complied with.

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He said the Justice Department will provide a more detailed legal justification soon.

Mr. Trump bucked decades of tradition, though no law, by refusing to divulge his tax returns as a presidential candidate and then in office.

The escalation of tensions over Trump's tax returns comes as Democrats press Attorney General William Barr to release special counsel Robert Mueller's unredacted report and related evidence.

In a Monday statement, Neal said that he would "consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response".

Legal analysts say, however, that there is no prohibition on revealing tax returns that are under audit.

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The committee chairman could issue a subpoena on top of his request, or Democrats could move to hold the Treasury Secretary or IRS Commissioner for whom the original request was addressed to in contempt of Congress.

The Treasury Department did not return a request for comment about the NY legislation.

House Democrats have sought Trump's records for a more recent period of time, from 2013 to 2018, citing the need to oversee how the Internal Revenue Service audits the president's tax returns. The Democrats are demanding that the IRS turn over the documents. Requests for information using the law are also made on a regular basis for research purposes. "What's unprecedented is a Justice Department that again sees its role as being bodyguard to the executive and not the rule of law", Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J) said.

Some legal experts have speculated that the Trump administration or Trump's attorneys could try getting a federal court to prevent NY state from turning over the president's records.

Trump has repeatedly asked aides as to the status of the House request and has not signaled a willing to cooperate with Democrats, according to a White House official and two Republicans close to the White House.

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The attempt has been linked by him to the House probes into his administration and has encouraged his staff to stonewall all requests.