Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin clapped back at Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) on Wednesday after the Maryland senator asked questions regarding the release of President Donald Trump’s tax returns, stating the administration was worried about the “weaponization” of the IRS.
During a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the IRS and Treasury Department budget requests, Mnuchin — who has served as Treasury Secretary since February 2017 — was asked by Van Hollen if he believed Congress had “legitimate interest in verifying that the president has paid the taxes due in 2008.”
Mnuchin answered by stating that Congress has a “legitimate interest” in ensuring that the IRS is performing their duty “properly” and that the Trump administration was concerned about the potential “weaponization of the IRS” that could come from a precedent of requiring presidents to turn over their taxes.
“I think Congress has a legitimate interest to make sure that the IRS is performing the function as it relates to any taxpayer. If you are referring to the specific request of the president’s returns, I think, as you know, I have said before I think this is a very important issue that has a precedent way beyond any one president and Congress, and affects the weaponization of the IRS and can be used against anyone.”
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Watch live: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies before Senate committee https://t.co/hXXGtha9Js
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Van Hollen continued to press Mnuchin on whether Congress had a “legitimate interest” in making sure the IRS was “enforcing the tax laws with respect to the President of the United States.”
Mnuchin responded by stating there was “a difference in interpretation between Congress and [the Treasury Department] and the Department of Justice around this law” and that any discrepancies in interpretation between the legislative branch and the executive branch would be “resolved” by the Supreme Court.
As IJR Red previously reported, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said that Congress “has the authority” to arrest Mnuchin for not turning over Trump’s tax returns, which prompted MSNBC host Chris Matthews to point out that what she said sounded “so Venezuela.”