Steve Mnuchin is busy, so don’t bother him, ok?
Specifically, Steve is busy “analyzing the law” when it comes to congressional requests to produce six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns, something the president insists isn’t possible because “when you’re under audit, you don’t do it”.
Never mind the fact that nobody knows what that means – the IRS does not prevent a filer from releasing returns that are under audit. Additionally, Reuters reminds you that Trump has “offered no evidence of the agency’s review.”
Republicans are attempting to spin Mnuchin’s efforts to stall as something that’s necessary in order to avoid setting a “dangerous precedent”. Again, it’s not entirely clear what that means. Is there really a “slippery slope” here? Is it likely that future congresses will point to the Donald Trump example in the course of obtaining the tax returns of random citizens and/or politicians and then wielding those returns for nefarious purposes? And considering there’s four decades of precedent for presidents releasing their returns (and exactly no indication that anyone intends to follow Trump’s example by steadfastly refusing to do so), is there any evidence to support the idea that complying with Richard Neal’s request would affect future presidents?
The answer is “no” to all of the above. This is just another example of Republicans (and Trump’s inner circle) pretending as though they have no idea why these things are happening – as though it is completely lost on them why anyone would suggest that Trump is a special case that calls for (indeed demands) scrutiny.
You’re reminded that according to some tax attorneys, Mnuchin doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on here – at all.
Read more on the effort to keep Trump’s tax returns from Congress
The Treasury Secretary last week failed to meet a deadline for producing the returns citing, among other things, the necessity of consulting with William Barr (which is laughable for obvious reasons) on questions of law.
Steve reiterated that on Monday in an interview with (guess who) Maria Bartiromo. “We’re analyzing the law, we’re consulting with the Department of Justice”, Mnuchin said.
Just watch the clip and decide for yourself whether this is a legitimate effort to assess complex legal issues and protect taxpayers’ privacy, or whether this is just an absurdly transparent attempt to shield Trump (almost certainly at the White House’s behest, by the way):
With apologies to anyone who finds that convincing, you would have to be an overtly gullible person to believe anything Mnuchin says there. Even if you buy the premise (which you absolutely shouldn’t, for all the reasons laid out in these pages over the past month and touched on above), Mnuchin comes across as wholly unconvincing, which isn’t surprising because you can be sure he doesn’t believe anything he’s saying.
On Sunday, Sarah Sanders took the silliness to new extremes by explicitly saying that Congress shouldn’t be allowed to see Trump’s returns because lawmakers “aren’t smart enough”.
Obviously, nobody would believe any of the above if it could somehow be separated from the partisan melee and evaluated on its own merit.
Sanders’s comments in particular are laughably ridiculous, not to mention insulting to Trump’s base to the extent she knows many of the president’s supporters are gullible enough to believe the press secretary’s subjective assessment of lawmakers’ mental acuity is not only relevant, but cause for defying a congressional order.
And, meanwhile, poor Larry with his umbrella and contrasting collar…
WH economic advisor Larry Kudlow says pres won't release his tax returns because they're under audit. Echoes @stevenmnuchin1 that the Administration thinks it's wrong "to weaponize the IRS the way the Nixon Administration did." pic.twitter.com/tDVYiWRiKJ
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) April 15, 2019