Mnuchin says he hasn’t talked with Trump about his tax returns

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he hasn’t discussed with President Donald Trump or his attorneys the efforts by lawmakers to seek his tax returns, but that if Congress sends him a request, he’ll consult with the agency’s legal department and follow the law.

Mnuchin also told the House Ways and Means Committee, which is working on a request for the filings, that Trump has never asked him about it.

“I haven’t received the request,” Mnuchin said Thursday in response to a question at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing in Washington. “If you have a request for me today, I’m happy to accept it.”

Democrats who now control the committee are eager to get the returns and are easing their way into an almost-certain legal battle.

Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts — as well as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the head of the Joint Committee on Taxation — have the power under a 1924 law to ask the Treasury secretary to turn over the tax returns of any person, including the president.

Trump broke decades of tradition by refusing to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign, saying the returns were under audit, and has continued to decline to make them public.

Steven Mnuchin, Treasury Secretary nominee
Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary nominee for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, listens during a Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Mnuchin defended his record as an owner of a mortgage lender that was accused of unfair loan and foreclosure practices during the financial crisis. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg