Another day, another deadline ignored by Steve Mnuchin for producing Trump's tax returns!
Kristen Welker introduced tax journalist and author David Cay Johnston to talk about what's next in the never-ending saga.
"Joining me now to discuss this, the founder of DCReport.org. He's also the author of 'The Making of Donald Trump.' Another deadline missed, you write that the IRS is required to cooperate with these requests saying, quote, 'if they follow the law, they absolutely have to hand them over' after a 1924 anti-corruption law which was passed after a Harding Administration scandal. Congress can look at anybody's tax return at any time. It doesn't seem like Mnuchin is going to comply, though. What happens now?" Welker asked.
"No, it doesn't seem like he's going to comply, and by the way, the president has the exact same authority to look at anyone's tax return by simply asking for it in writing. The likely outcome is that the House Ways and Means committee chairman, Richard Neal, will get a vote to take the president's team to court," Johnston said.
"And both Mnuchin and Charles Reddig, the IRS commissioner, who is the person with the technical legal authority who is supposed to turn it over, runs some risk here. If they are ultimately prosecuted, which certainly wouldn't happen during this administration, they're at risk of five years in prison and, of course, being labeled felons which would seriously interfere with Mnuchin's going back to Wall Street and Reddig's continuing to practice law as a tax avoidance lawyer."
"And yet it doesn't seem like Mnuchin is backing down at all. In fact, Bloomberg has this astounding headline that his day job is consumed by protecting Trump's tax returns. What do you make of that?" Welker said.
"Well, you have around Donald Trump people who, instead of upholding the oath they took in their office to defend the Constitution, have been compromised in one way or another by Donald and they are doing what James Comey would not. They are showing their loyalty to the boss, that is not all their duty requires. There is an honorable way out of this for both Mnuchin and Reddig: resign."
"As you know, though, Democrats are getting criticized for overplaying their hands. Is there a real legislative purpose when you think about the oversight rule of Democrats for them to see the president's tax returns, something he didn't release as a candidate?" Welker said.
"Oh, absolutely. and remember, Donald Trump had two civil fraud trials. He lost both. The New York Times in an extensive report didn't say it 'looked' like it, it said flat out the president 'committed' tax fraud. I'm not a lawyer but I used to teach tax fraud in law school, all agreed that there is a long running evidence of tax fraud.
"So Congress has an interest in this. In the Nixon case, they approved the tax returns, but when they went to get these returns, it turned out Nixon was a major tax cheat and the only reason he didn't go to prison is he got a presidential pardon. His lawyer did go to prison."