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The Treasury Department said Wednesday that a leaked IRS memo interpreted by some as saying that the agency must release President Donald Trump’s tax returns to Congress has been misinterpreted, and that previous guidance barring making the documents public remains in force.
The existence of the memo was first reported by The Washington Post, which published it online Tuesday night. It states that the law “does not allow [Treasury Secretary Mnuchin] to exercise discretion in disclosing the information provided the statutory conditions are met” and specifies that his argument that Congress has no legislative reason for demanding the returns is flawed.
“[The] only basis for the agency’s refusal to comply with a committee’s subpoena would be the invocation of the doctrine of executive privilege,” it reads.
On Wednesday, a Treasury spokesperson said in an email that the department had not “seen any such memo” but maintained the analysis therein would not undermine previous guidance from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).
“Neither the Secretary nor senior Treasury leadership has seen any such memo,” the spokesperson said. “Regardless, the analysis described to us does not appear to address the constitutional impediments preventing Treasury from disclosing the requested tax information. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel has reviewed those Constitutional issues and advised the Treasury that it may not produce the requested private tax return information.”
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