BOSTON (CBS) – “It is our intent to follow the law,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told a congressional committee today regarding its demand to review President Trump’s tax returns. “And that is in the process of being reviewed.”
House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal of Massachusetts sent the White House into a defensive crouch with his request for the returns, which Mr. Trump has long insisted he’d like to disclose but can’t because he’s being audited, a claim dismissed by Neal. “The IRS pretty clear on that, that you can release your returns even if you are under audit,” he says.
But the president now seems ready for a legal battle. “They’ll speak to my lawyers; they’ll speak to the attorney general,” he told reporters.
And a viewer wonders what the fuss is, writing: “I’d like to know why this is anyone’s business? A person’s tax filing should be the business of the person filing and the IRS only.”
Dating back to the 1920s, when members of President Warren Harding’s cabinet were neck-deep in corruption, Congress has been legally empowered to review tax returns, a principle defended now by the Senate’s senior Republican. “It affirms why it’s so important to allow independent and congressional investigations to pursue the facts and run their course,” says Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
And with the exception of President Gerald Ford in the 1970s, no president or presidential nominee since the 1960s has refused to release at least some of their tax returns.
But Mr. Trump wouldn’t be the first big-time politician to balk.
The late Sen. Ted Kennedy refused to release his returns, and Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking a lot of heat for failing – so far – to release his.
Still, few candidates ever want to have to answer the question: What do you have to hide?