What a difference having an honest man as U.S. Treasury Secretary makes.
Since the Democrats lost badly in the 2016 general election, and even before, the rank and file have been clamoring to see Donald Trump’s tax returns. All of them, not just the ones that have been released, stolen or leaked. For whatever reason, the Democrats are looking for some nugget of wrongdoing that the Internal Revenue Service hasn’t located before now.
That being the case, they are pressuring Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to do the releasing. So far, he has refused. Now, one of the more obscure Democrats is looking to force the release with a little known provision in the law.
Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett said Tuesday that IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should be jailed or fined for stonewalling congressional subpoenas for President Trump’s tax returns.
Doggett, D-Texas, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Tuesday that congressional Democrats need to employ what’s known as “inherent contempt” for Trump officials defying committee requests and subpoenas for Trump’s financial information.
“I believe that there is no legal advice that will stop the lawlessness and lies of this administration, and that is why Congress needs to act firmly now to use every tool it has available to get this information that Trump so fears that the public will see,” Doggett told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday night.
“To take action, I believe it’s going to require fines or confinement under our power of inherent contempt to get the information we need and to get all these other people that, under what seems to be gang rule, are told don’t say anything and don’t provide anything,” he continued. “Total silence, total obstruction.”
Doggett later clarified who should be targeted in that effort.
“The subpoena is directed to the IRS commissioner,” Doggett explained. “But Secretary Mnuchin has never let him answer the questions—he responds with all the answers.”
Ultimately, since Mnuchin is technically responsible for any such release, it is his call to have the IRS refuse the request.
Inherent contempt was used against IRS head Lois Lerner when she refused to answer questions before a Congressional Committee. That being the case, this could simply be a matter of tit for tat. More likely, though, Mnuchin halted using the IRS as a political weapon, and the Democrats really are not happy about that.