Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has blocked the efforts of a House committee to get Donald Trump’s tax returns

The House Ways and Means Committee gives the Trump Administration a hard deadline of April 23 to hand over Donald Trump’s tax returns.

On Saturday, the chair of the Democratic-majority Committee, Richard Neal sent a two-page letter to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig, rejecting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s statement that he would miss the initial April 10 deadline.

See also TrumpWatch, Day 810: Mnuchin Indicates Treasury to Protect Trump Over Tax Returns

Neal said Mnuchin’s supposed concerns “lack merit”. He informed Rettig, “Please know that, if you fail to comply, your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request.”

Mnuchin has not yet denied the Committee request, saying he will confer with the Justice Department. Analysts say a denial is likely to be followed by Committee subpoenas and court action.

The Treasury Secretary maintained on Saturday that he is acting carefully over “very, very complicated” legal questions. He said Treasury’s legal office has begun meeting with Justice Department lawyers, but he has not yet spoken with Attorney General William Barr.

“I think it’s more important to the American taxpayers that we get this right than [that] we hit an arbitrary deadline,” Mnuchin said. “I’m not going to make a commitment prematurely as to whether we’ll be able to conclude our legal review within [the] deadline or not.”

Neal has requested that the IRS hand over Trump’s returns from 2013 to 2018, amid ongoing concerns about Trump’s conflicts of interest and possible legal violations.

The request followed testimony by Trump’s long-time lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen that his former boss inflated and deflated his wealth to limit taxes and insurance premiums, possibly committing fraud. The Washington Post, using material from Cohen, published an examination of Trump’s “Statements of Financial Condition” that found, “The documents were deeply flawed. Some simply omitted properties that carried big debts. Some assets were overvalued. And some key numbers were wrong.”

Trump’s lawyer William Consovoy has told the Treasury to ensure that the IRS did not hand over the returns.

See also TrumpWatch, Day 806: Trump Lawyer to Treasury — Don’t Give Tax Returns to Congress

Trump has refused to release his returns — a practice since Richard Nixon — either as a candidate or as US President. He has given the unsupported pretext that he is being audited by the IRS.

Experts say that, even if Trump is being audited, this would not prevent release of the returns.

House Oversight Committee to Subpoena Trump’s Accountants

The chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee has reconfirmed that he will subpoena the accounting firm Mazars USA for Donald Trump’s financial statements.

Elijah Cummings notified Committee members that he will issue the subpoena on Monday.

Cummings told reporters earlier this month that Mazars requested a “friendly subpoena”, indicated they would comply with the request. But he said on Friday that the firm had refused to hand over the documents.

See also TrumpWatch, Day 804: House Committees Put Pressure on Trump Over Finances and Russia

The Committee asked the company on March 20 for copies of “statements of financial condition”, audits prepared for Trump and several of his companies, supporting documents, and communications between the firm and Trump.

The committee has been given three years of financial statements, prepared by Mazars, by Trump’s former lawyer Cohen claiming his boss lied and possibly broke the law with the documents inflating or deflating his wealth. They included Trump’s pursuit of a loan from Deutsche Bank to buy the American football franchise Buffalo Bills in 2014 and an attempt by Trump to lower his insurance premiums with reassurances that he could pay them.