'No Amount of Legal Advice Will Stop the Lawlessness and Lies': Leaked IRS Memo Says Mnuchin Must Hand Over Trump Tax Returns
September 13, 2020 | News | No Comments
As the White House continues to stonewall efforts by congressional Democrats to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns, a confidential IRS draft memo that leaked late Tuesday appeared to completely undercut Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s justification for withholding the documents.
“Because no amount of legal advice will stop the lawlessness and lies, Congress should use all of our powers to enforce compliance, including fines and confinement.”
—Rep. Lloyd Doggett
First obtained by the Washington Post, the memo states that federal law “does not allow the secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met.”
Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, has refused to release the president’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee on multiple occasions on the grounds that “the committee’s request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”
But the 10-page IRS memo (pdf)—reportedly prepared last fall “by a lawyer in the Office of Chief Counsel”—makes clear that the “secretary’s obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee… to state a reason for the request.”
“The memo writer’s interpretation is that the IRS has no wiggle room on this,” Daniel Hemel, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, told the Post. “Mnuchin is saying the House Ways and Means Committee has not asserted a legitimate legislative purpose. The memo says they don’t have to assert a legitimate legislative purpose—or any purpose at all.”
The draft memo points to one possible way in which the White House could justify withholding Trump’s tax returns: executive privilege.
SCROLL TO CONTINUE WITH CONTENT