Treasury secretary Mnuchin won't turn over Trump's tax returns by deadline

Rep. Richard Neal leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol Jan. 4 2019

But testifying before Congress on Wednesday, Rettig refused to say that it was his responsibility alone to respond to the congressional instruction, which was sent by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-MA).

In the letter, Mnuchin said his department has "begun consultations with the Department of Justice to ensure that our response is fully consistent with the law and the Constitution", and it will miss the April 10 deadline set by Neal. The law says that if he wants the taxes, he should get them.

Mnuchin revealed the conversations during a hearing before a House appropriations subcommittee saying members from his team spoke to the White House about releasing the tax returns, but he was not personally involved nor was he ever briefed on the content of the conversations.

Rettig faced a Wednesday deadline to respond to a letter from Neal who last week formally requested Trump's business and personal tax information dating back to 2013.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that US-China trade talks continue to make progress and the two sides have basically settled on a mechanism to police any agreement, including new enforcement offices.

Yesterday, Steven Mnuchin went to Capitol Hill to give the Treasury Secretary's annual testimony on the state of the global financial system. He said that his predecessors had never been asked to stay as long as he already had.

"The decision is mine with the supervision of Treasury, " Rettig said, adding he and Mnuchin have discussed who would handle the response but haven't reached a conclusion.

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Trump's taxes have been a source of contention since his presidential campaign, when he broke with decades of tradition by refusing to release his returns. "As I've said, we consulted - which I believe was appropriate of our legal department", Mnuchin said Tuesday.

The president has told those close to him that the attempt to get his returns amounted to an invasion of his privacy and was a further example of the Democratic-led "witch hunt" - which he has called special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation - meant to damage him.

He did not explain who exactly he was referring to, but he said this list could include Democrats in Congress and their financial supporters outside Washington.

Mnuchin told lawmakers that his department will "follow the law", but he hasn't shared the department's interpretation of the statute.

Trump's position has always been that he is under audit and therefore could not release his returns.

"We're not seeking the President's cooperation, we're not looking to the IRS to turn over a copy of returns". These arguments have been echoed in House hearings by congressional Republicans. Of course, most tax attorneys don't represent presidents or people running for the White House.

Rep. Bishop: "If anybody's tax return is under audit, is there a rule that would prohibit that taxpayer from releasing it?"

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