April 10, 2019 1:19 pm
Updated: April 10, 2019 1:50 pm

Trump says he ‘would love’ to release tax returns — but he’s under audit

WATCH ABOVE: Trump says he won't release tax returns due to ongoing audit


WASHINGTON —  U.S. President Donald Trump, facing a congressional deadline for his administration to provide his tax returns, said Wednesday that he “won’t do it” while he’s under audit by the IRS.

READ MORE: ‘If you wish to leave you may’: treasury secretary’s testimony on Trump tax returns grows testy

Trump told reporters on the White House lawn that “I would love to give them, but I’m not going to do it while I’m under audit.”

Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has asked the IRS to turn over six years’ of the president’s tax returns by the end of the day.

WATCH: Trump ‘not inclined’ to release tax returns under audit

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who supervises the IRS, said Tuesday that he’s not seeking direction from the White House on whether to comply. He said the department would likely respond by Neal’s deadline but didn’t say whether he would provide the returns as demanded.

Democrats don’t expect Treasury to comply but they haven’t sketched out their next steps.

READ MORE: Democrats will never see Trump’s tax returns, chief of staff says

Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Trump’s returns. He has the option of eventually seeking to subpoena the records or to go to court if the IRS does not comply, but it’s not clear he’ll adopt a more confrontational approach just yet.

“We intend to follow through with this,” Neal said Wednesday. “I’ll let you know fast.”

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The request for Trump’s tax filings is but one of many oversight efforts launched by Democrats after taking back the House in last fall’s midterms. Neal is relying on a 1920s-era law that says the IRS “shall furnish” any tax return requested by the chairmen of key House and Senate committees.

Mnuchin told lawmakers Treasury will “follow the law” but hasn’t shared the department’s interpretation of the statute.

READ MORE: Trump’s attorney says IRS can’t legally release his tax returns

The head of the IRS, meanwhile, faced questions from lawmakers for a second day on his response to Neal’s request.

“You are on the receiving end of a very aggressive political campaign by the Trump administration. … It is your job, and your job alone, to respond to Chairman Neal’s request,” Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, told Commissioner Charles Rettig at a hearing by the panel.

WATCH ABOVE: Democrats fight for access to Trump tax returns, full Mueller reports

Wyden cited the importance of the IRS to be independent of political pressure.

“We’re working on a response with counsel and we will respond,” Rettig said.

READ MORE: U.S. House committee chair asks IRS to share six years of Trump’s tax returns

Rettig had agreed with Democrats on Tuesday that it’s primarily his decision to make — though he reports to Mnuchin. “You must be aware that we’re a bureau of Treasury, and Treasury supervises us,” he told Wyden on Wednesday.

Rettig said he hadn’t been instructed not to comply with the request by anyone acting on the White House’s behalf.

Associated Press writer Marcy Gordon contributed from Washington.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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