Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that White House and Treasury lawyers held "informational" conversations concerning Democrats' requests for President Donald Trump's tax returns. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo
April 9 (UPI) -- Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified Tuesday that lawyers from the agency consulted with, but did not take orders from the White House regarding the release of President Donald Trump's tax returns.
Mnuchin revealed the conversations during a hearing before a House appropriations subcommittee saying members from his team spoke to the White House about releasing the tax returns, but he was not personally involved nor was he ever briefed on the content of the conversations.
"I believe that the communication between our legal department and the White House general counsel was informational," he said. "We had obviously read in the press that we were expecting this."
Last week, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., submitted a request to the Internal Revenue Service for six years of Trump's personal tax returns as well as the returns for some of his business entities.
Mnuchin previously testified he would comply with such requests and said he hadn't asked the White House for permission about Neal's request.
"We would not ever ask for the White House's permission on this nor did they give us the permission," he said.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said it was concerning that the White House may have had any role in the release of the tax records.
"I think the fact that there was any communication with the White House about this is deeply troubling and certainly violates the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law and I think we need to get to the bottom of this," she said.
On Sunday, Trump's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said Democrats would "never" see Trump's tax returns.
Mnuchin said Tuesday that he is rarely involved in handling other requests for tax returns and would not say how he planned to proceed with this request.
"It is being reviewed by the legal departments and we look forward to responding to the letter," he said.
IRS Commissioner Charles Retting said the decision on whether Trump's tax returns will be released is ultimately his, adding he had discussed Neal's request with Mnuchin but was not ordered to reject the request or told how to handle the returns.