behind the scenes
Steven Mnuchin says the Treasury Department spoke with White House lawyers about Democrats' tax return demand
The Treasury Department is reviewing Congress' request for President Trump's tax returns, and its lawyers have communicated with the White House about it, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Tuesday.
Mnuchin testified before a House appropriations subcommittee that Treasury's legal department has spoken with the White House Office of General Counsel about Democrats' request for the president's taxes, NBC News reports. He said that he did not personally speak with the White House about the matter and that he hasn't been briefed on the discussions; however he described them as "informational," saying they "obviously had read in the press that we were expecting this" and that "this wasn't exactly a state secret," per CBS News.
The House Ways and Means Committee formally requested six years of Trump's taxes on April 3, citing a section of the tax code which says the Treasury secretary "shall furnish" anyone's tax returns when the committee requests them. Mnuchin had not previously acknowledged that the White House and the Treasury Department were communicating about this process, which The Washington Post notes "is designed to be walled off from White House interference."
This comment from Mnuchin also highlights, as The New York Times writes, "the seriousness with which the president is taking the request." Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had previously said that Democrats would "never" get their hands on Trump's tax returns.