Steve Mnuchin Just Got One Step Closer To Being Removed From Office And Go To Prison
President Donald Trump and his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have declared that the administration will not give the president’s tax returns to Congress, as required under a 1924 anti-corruption law. But there’s a problem.
The law is clear, and it leaves no wiggle room. The consequences for breaking it include removal from public office and up to five years in prison.
Both Mnuchin and IRS commissioner harles Rettig have said that they will obey the law even as they delay actually doing so.
They are so cautious because they don’t want to be removed from office and sent to prison for five years just for doing Trump’s bidding.
The reason will no doubt surprise those who think Trump can thumb his nose at the law governing congressional access to anyone’s tax returns, including his. It will for sure shock Trump, who claims that “the law is 100 percent on my side.”
The exact opposite is true.
Under Section 6103 of our tax code, Treasury officials “shall” turn over the tax returns “upon written request” of the chair of either congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused, a host of former congressional tax aides tell me.
There is, however, a law requiring every federal “employee” who touches the tax system to do their duty or be removed from office.
The crystal-clear language of this law applies to Trump, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Mnuchin and Rettig, federal employees all.
The law says all of them “shall” be removed from office if they fail to comply with the request from Representative Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.
There are no qualifiers in Section 6103 that shield Trump from delivering, in confidence, his tax returns to Congress. No wiggle room at all.
Another provision in our tax code, Section 7214(a), provides that “Any officer or employee of the United States acting in connection with any revenue law of the United States… who with intent to defeat the application of any provision of this title fails to perform any of the duties of his office or employment… shall be dismissed from office or discharged from employment and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $10,000, or imprisoned not more than 5 years or both.”
All that Neal must do is make a request in writing that falls within the committee’s tax law and IRS oversight duties. Neal’s carefully articulated reasoning and requests for specific tax returns and related tax information in his April 3 letter easily meets that standard.
Congress earlier applied this law to Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace after a second audit of his returns showed he was a major league tax cheat. Nixon fabricated deductions worth more than $3.4 million in today’s money. Nixon got off with a pardon, while his tax lawyer went to prison.
Even if Mnuchin or Rettig or anyone else escaped prosecution for failing to provide the requested
One big problem for Rettig and Mnuchin, and perhaps others, is the provision requiring removal from office for anyone who “conspires or colludes with any other person.”
Mnuchin has acknowledged that Treasury officials talked with White House officials. And Rettig indicated he has spoken with Mnuchin and others at Treasury.
How many others were in the cover-up? Maybe Congressional hearings will tell us.