Mnuchin Defends Withholding Trump Taxes After Releasing Hunter Biden Records
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended his decision not to release President Donald Trump’s tax returns to House Democrats after releasing Hunter Biden’s extremely sensitive financial information to GOP lawmakers, according to Law&Crime.
Mnuchin appeared before the Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday and Senate Democrats accused his department of applying a double-standard to congressional requests.
“One request is backed up by clear, statutory language in tax code section 6103 requiring the ‘shall provide’ tax documents to the committees,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said, referring to the regulation governing the release of tax returns. It states the Treasury Secretary “shall furnish such committee with any [tax] return or return information specified.”
“The other request doesn’t have the same legal basis, and certainly, to me, it looks political,” Wyden added in reference to the Treasury’s compliance with a Republican request for Hunter Biden’s information which included Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).
“The request from the Democratic chair, with a firm legal basis, was met with nothing but legal foot-dragging,” Wyden alleged. “The request that came from the Republican chairs got VIP treatment. They got, you know, a response out the door in a flash. So it looks to me like there’s a double standard here. And that you all are tipping the scales of congressional oversight. What am I missing Mr. Secretary?”
The Treasury and DOJ Office of Legal Counsel have repeatedly refused to comply with tax return demands, saying that Democrats lack a legitimate legislative purpose.
Mnuchin responded by stating the Treasury had “significant concerns” about requests for Trump’s tax returns, but the department had responded to “thousands” of other requests from lawmakers from both political parties.
Mnuchin did not state the legislative purpose of providing Biden’s records, but he did say that releasing SARs to Congress is a thing that happens all the time.
Yet, SARs are the most confidential, closely held documents in federal law enforcement. They are forbidden from being disclosed by banks or government authorities, being exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. Additionally, the existence of a SAR does not indicate that an illegal activity has actually occurred.
It’s now up to the Supreme Court to decide.