Democrats are getting ready to ramp up their fight to get Trump's tax returns - and it could get ugly
- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has once again blown past another deadline set by Democrats on the House Ways & Means Committee requesting six years of Trump's tax returns.
- The Democrats are now weighing their next steps, which could include a number of different options.
- The White House is standing firm in their refusal to hand over the tax returns.
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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's tax returns are still at large after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin blew past another deadline set by Democrats on the House Ways & Means Committee.
Mnuchin notified the committee Tuesday afternoon he would need until at least May 6 to finish consulting with the Department of Justice on whether to hand over Trump's tax returns. But Democrats are increasingly impatient and now Ways & Means Chairman Richard Neal is huddling with advisors to weigh a number of different options.Read more: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the IRS blew through another deadline to turn over Trump's tax returns
Democrats insist there is no legal question to be consider. For them, the law is clear. Under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code, the secretary of the Treasury Department "shall furnish" up to 10 years of an individual's tax returns to one of three committees: The Senate Finance Committee, the Joint Committee on Taxation, or the Ways & Means Committee.
Democrats are making the request for just six years of Trump's returns, citing oversight of the presidential auditing process for their justification. Trump and his aides have so far refused, with acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney saying the returns will "never" be handed over to Congress.
Republicans' main opposition to Democrats' request is their opinion it would be an abuse of power and set dangerous precedent in privacy rights for individuals' tax returns. This is despite the fact that Republicans on the same committee revealed the private tax information of several individuals during their probes of former IRS official Lois Lerner in 2014.
Now, two deadlines have passed since the initial request for Trump's taxes at the beginning of April. What steps Neal and the other Democrats intend to take is still unclear, but they are weighing their options. Neal said in a statement Tuesday afternoon he would be consulting with counsel about any next steps.
A Democratic aide told INSIDER there are a number of options on the table, including subpoenas for the returns or for officials to be hauled in before the committee.It is is also unnerving to committee Democrats how Mnuchin set his own deadline. Congress typically sets the deadlines for the executive branch to comply with, not the other way around.
And it is not just Trump who is under fire for not releasing the returns. A number of individuals could start facing scrutiny if this process drags out, including Mnuchin and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig.
Republicans famously went after then-IRS Commissioner Jon Koskinen in repeated efforts to force an impeachment vote for what they believe were attempts to conceal information and lie to Congress about the unfair targeting of conservative groups at the IRS.
So far in the saga over Trump's tax returns, at least one Democrat has floated the idea of pursuing an impeachment of Rettig if the returns are not handed over to Congress, according to the Washington Post.
Any action is not likely to be taken until next week when Congress returns from recess, according to a Democratic aide. But the more the Trump administration stonewalls, the more likely Democrats are to explore new methods of applying pressure.