Sorry Steve Mnuchin, What's 'Illegal' Is YOUR FACE

Deep State, FTW! Before Bill Barr's handpicked hacks at the Justice Department cooked up a facially ridiculous memo giving the Treasury Secretary the right to psychoanalyze a Ways and Means Committee request for tax documents and determine if Congress's motives are pure, career lawyers at the IRS had already produced a real legal opinion finding the exact opposite. Surprise! Apparently, there's no secret codicil to the law that says, "The IRS Commissioner has to hand 'em over, unless Donald Trump really doesn't wanna, in which case, fuck those guys!"

The Washington Post got a leaked copy of the unsigned memorandum, prepared last fall and marked "draft."

Unlike some other provisions of section 6103, the language in subsections 6103(f)(1) and (2) is mandatory, requiring the Secretary to disclose returns and return information requested by the tax writing Chairs. On its face, the statute does not allow the Secretary to exercise discretion to disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met.

Yeah, like we said, the statute is NON-DISCRETIONARY.

The memo goes on to state that the Ways and Means chair is under no obligation to provide a legislative justification for a requested return -- he just gets it.

Unlike section 6103(f)(3), subsections (f)(1) and (2) do not require the Ways and Means and Finance Chair or JCT Chief of Staff to include a reason or purpose for the request. Therefore, the Secretary's obligation to disclose return and return information would not be affected by the failure of a tax writing committee or the JCT to state a reason for the request.

Womp womp. The lawyers sold you out, Munch!

But wait! Here's Treasury Secretary Mnuchin 'splaining to the Financial Services Committee this morning how he never did read that internal memo, but even if it he had, it totally backs up his position. Also, it's "addressing a different issue," despite referring to exactly the same statutes cited by Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal in his request.

Never mind, folks, Secretary Botox has banged his gravel.

Just kidding! We're still recovering from that press conference this morning. Seriously, how freaked out is Trump that New York is poised to hand his state returns over to Congress, the trial court ordered his accountants at Mazars to cough up his financials, and as we type the trial judge is holding a hearing to determine whether Deutsche Bank and Capital One have to hand over documents subpoenaed by the House Intel and Financial Services Committees.

We're frankly confused about the memo's speculation that the president could shield a particular return, even his own, by "invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege." Executive privilege is supposed to shield presidential deliberations so that the advisors can give candid advice without fear of being hauled before Congress. How the president's personal tax returns could possibly fall under that rubric is unclear. But in any event, there could be no possible executive privilege regarding Trump's pre-2016 tax returns. So hand 'em over, assholes!

On Friday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin defied the subpoena, saying that it was ILLEGAL for him to comply with the Ways and Means request for Trump's tax returns. Chairman Neal is currently deciding whether to take Mnuchin to court, or first move to hold him in contempt. Generally speaking, courts are loath to weigh in on fights between Congress and the Executive branch, and so each side goes to pains to demonstrate that it has negotiated in good faith. But when, as here, the law is entirely on Congress's side, Neal may elect to skip the intermediate step and go directly for the jugular.


[IRS Draft Memo / WaPo]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.


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