Progressive groups on Friday called on House Democrats to hold Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena for President Donald Trump's tax returns.
Last week, as Common Dreams reported, after Mnuchin repeatedly rejected lawmakers' request for six years of Trump's tax returns, the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed both Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.
Mnuchin maintained his position in a one-page letter (pdf) to the committee's chairman, Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), on Friday, writing that the Justice Department has determined that "the committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose."
He doesn't have a choice. It's the law. https://t.co/dAWfJ8G8Fw
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) May 17, 2019
The Treasury secretary's decision to defy the committee's 5pm Friday deadline all but guarantees a court fight over the documents, and Neal said in a statement Friday he is "consulting with counsel on how best to enforce the subpoenas moving forward." The chairman also noted that "the law provides clear statutory authority for [him] to request and receive access to tax returns and return information."
The progressive advocacy groups Stand Up America and Tax March, in response to Mnuchin's letter, urged House Democrats to hold him in contempt of Congress.
"It is unconscionable for our country to have a Treasury secretary who repeatedly shows us that he will continue to obstruct justice at every turn in order to do Trump's bidding," Tax March executive director Maura Quint said in a statement. "Neither Mnuchin nor Donald Trump is above the law."
"This is why it's imperative for Chairman Neal to do everything within his power to defend Congress's constitutional powers and hold Mnuchin in contempt of Congress," she continued. "The American people deserve better and justice cannot wait."
"By willfully failing to meet this deadline, Secretary Mnuchin has made a mockery of Congress and the Constitution that empowers the legislative branch to conduct oversight of the executive branch."
—Ryan Thomas, Stand Up America
Stand Up America spokesperson Ryan Thomas concurred, pointing out that "compliance was not optional."
"By willfully failing to meet this deadline," he said, "Secretary Mnuchin has made a mockery of Congress and the Constitution that empowers the legislative branch to conduct oversight of the executive branch."
Thomas implored Neal to "swiftly begin proceedings to hold Secretary Mnuchin in contempt of Congress and to immediately take him to court to force the administration to comply with this lawful request."
"These blatant attempts to hide the truth from the American people are illegal," he added. "It is far past time for Secretary Mnuchin to stop protecting Donald Trump and follow the letter of the law by complying with this request."