Trump says he will not release his tax returns

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks to the news media after giving a television interview at the White House in Washington Dec. 3 2018

Steve Mnunchin and Maxine Waters Butt Heads Again

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said Americans did not care about the issue and that his returns were being audited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which tax and legal experts have said does not prevent their release. But he also faces pressure not to let working relations with congressional Democrats, in the Financial Services Committee in particular, deteriorate as they have the power to make his life hard.

Trump has repeatedly asked aides about the status of the House request and has inquired about the "loyalty" of the top officials at the IRS, according to one outside adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. "We had obviously read in the press that we were expecting this".

"Unfortunately, we are all pressed for time", said the California congresswoman, whose committee grilled Mnuchin about his plans to respond to Democrats' requests for access to President Trump's tax returns.

Mnuchin previously testified he would comply with such requests and said he hadn't asked the White House for permission about Neal's request.

"We need to make sure that the IRS and the individual taxpayer info does not become subject to political wills", said Mnuchin on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund.

White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that Trump's tax returns would never be handed over to Democratic lawmakers, in defiance of their efforts to learn more about the former real estate mogul's personal finances.

Democrats want to review Trump's returns chiefly as part of their investigations into possible conflicts of interest posed by his continued ownership of extensive business interests even as he serves the public as president.

Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department as to the constitutional questions raised by the Democrats request and appeared deeply skeptical of the lawmakers intentions.

"It will be embarrassing if I keep this person waiting for a long period of time", Mnuchin said. "And no lawyer would tell you to release your tax returns while you're under audit". He routinely says - as he did Friday - that he's under audit and therefore won't release his returns.

Democrats say a 1924 statute requires the Treasury secretary to turn over tax returns to the chairmen of the congressional tax committees who ask for them for investigative purposes.

When Nixon was first audited by the IRS, he was given a clean bill on his returns, but a subsequent audit of the same returns found that he owed almost $500,000 in additional tax on interest.

"While I'm under audit I would not give my taxes - there's no law whatsoever". Neal requested the returns on the basis that he wants to review the procedure for the routine audits of presidents. "The Ways and Means Committee in particular has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary federal tax system and determine how Americans - including those elected to our highest office - are complying with those laws".

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