Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin dug in Wednesday on the administration's refusal to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns, shrugging off questions about a draft legal analysis by the Internal Revenue Service that undercuts the administration's official position on the matter.
“Our issue is that we want to make sure that the IRS is not weaponized for any party," he told lawmakers.
In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Mnuchin said he hadn’t seen the "supposed" IRS memo until that morning. He also told lawmakers that he wasn’t sure who wrote it and why it wasn’t widely circulated.
Noting "different legal views," the secretary reiterated his expectation that the matter will wind up being decided in the courts.
“On this one request, we’ve been advised that there are different legal views,” Mnuchin told lawmakers. “And this is why it will most likely go to the third branch of government. And if the third branch of government opines on Congress’ right, then we would obviously supply the documents.”
The memo, first reported by the Washington Post late Tuesday, found a president's tax returns should be released to Congress unless executive privilege is used.
The IRS said the memo was a draft paper prepared last fall that was never finalized and “not the official position of the IRS.”
“The IRS Commissioner and the Chief Counsel were unaware of the paper until this week’s media inquiry,” the IRS said Wednesday. “The document was not sent to Treasury.”
Mnuchin has previously said the tax returns shouldn't be released because there is no legislative purpose for them. Democrats say the returns are needed to determine whether Trump is running the government in a way that could benefit him financially.