The GOP never demanded President Obama's taxes because he publicly released them.
Trump, his lawyers, his advisers, and Republicans in Congress are all fighting to keep Trump's taxes — and whatever shady transactions they contain — a closely guarded secret.
On Tuesday morning, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin offered an especially bad argument to attack members of Congress seeking Trump's tax returns by bringing up President Obama's taxes. Mnuchin made the comment while testifying about Trump's 2020 budget before the House Financial Services and General Government subcommittee of the Appropriations committee.
"I am sure there are many prominent Democrats who are relieved that when Kevin Brady was chairman of the committee, that he didn't request specific returns," Mnuchin said, referring to Brady's time as the Republican chair of the Ways and Means Committee in 2015 and 2016, during Obama's second term as president, long after he had released his tax returns.
Mnuchin was immediately fact-checked by Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), chair of the subcommittee, who correctly stated, "Because it was released."
Like all nominees since Richard Nixon, President Obama did, in fact, publicly release his taxes. The only person to break the trend of transparency was Trump.
The discussion about Trump's taxes came about because Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, demanded them in a letter to the IRS last week. Under a 1920s-era law, the IRS must furnish any tax returns requested by the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee or the Senate Finance Committee.
Previous chairs in the modern era had no reason to use this provision, as presidential nominees willingly released their returns to the public.
Earlier in his testimony, Mnuchin admitted that Treasury Department lawyers had met with White House lawyers about the issue of Trump's taxes. Mnuchin claims it happened before the IRS received the official request for them from Congress, but the interaction still raises red flags.
The Washington Post noted that the whole process "is designed to be walled off from White House interference, in part because of corruption that took place during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s."
If Mnuchin's team is colluding with White House lawyers on whether and how to respond, they may be undermining the intent of the law.
Mnuchin, Republicans, and Trump allies are going to great lengths to hide whatever is in Trump's tax returns. Which begs the question: What are they hiding?
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.