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DOJ defends Mnuchin’s refusal to hand over Trump’s tax returns

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Mnuchin says he won’t comply with subpoena for Trump’s tax returns

The Justice Department released an opinion Friday defending Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to comply with a House Democratic subpoena for six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns.

Last month, Mnuchin said he consulted with the Department of Justice in making the decision not to hand over the returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, saying the request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

HOUSE DEMOCRAT SUBPOENAS MNUCHIN, IRS FOR TRUMP’S TAX RETURNS

In its opinion Friday, the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel said that it advised the Treasury Department to deny the request.

“While the Executive Branch should accord due deference and respect to congressional requests, Treasury was not obliged to accept the Committee’s stated purpose without question, and based on all the facts and circumstances, we agreed that the Committee lacked a legitimate legislative purpose for its request,” the opinion states.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee issued subpoenas last month to Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig for the tax returns.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” Neal said in a statement at the time.

The topic has been a contentious one for the president since his time on the campaign trail in 2015, and throughout his administration, as he has refused to release his financial information. Trump repeatedly has claimed that his tax returns are complicated, and he has maintained that he will not release them while they are under audit by the IRS.

Last week, The New York Times obtained Trump’s federal income tax returns between 1985 and 1994. The documents revealed that Trump claimed to have lost $1.17 billion from his real estate businesses during that decade. The Times added that it had compared Trump’s tax information with other high-income earners and found that Trump “appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer. The newspaper also reported that the losses were so substantial, that in the eight of the 10 years in question, Trump was able to avoid paying income tax.

House Democrats have been targeting Trump’s tax returns and financial documents since they took the majority in Congress in January. As part of their lead-off ethics package, which Trump’s lawyers cited in their filing Wednesday, Democrats’ legislation required presidents to disclose at least 10 years of their tax returns to the public, in what was an apparent swipe at Trump.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Pelosi flexes muscle over party in impeachment debate, but ‘dam’ could collapse

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Pelosi flexes muscle over party in impeachment debate, but ‘dam’ could collapse

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has wielded her power to quash a faction of Democrats rallying for President Trump’s impeachment, but frustrated members within the party say the president is one misstep away from “that dam collapsing,” according to a Sunday report.

Since reassuming leadership over the house, Pelosi has thwarted her party’s liberal wing from going forward with impeachment proceedings, encouraging them to instead focus on other issues like health care.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reflects on President Donald Trump's statement that he would accept assistance from a foreign power. 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reflects on President Donald Trump’s statement that he would accept assistance from a foreign power. 
(AP)

“I don’t think there’s anything more divisive we can do than to impeach a president of the United States, and so you have to handle it with great care,” Pelosi told CNN on Sunday. “It has to be about the truth and the facts to take you to whatever decision has to be there.”

Some lawmakers say their deference to Pelosi is out of respect for the speaker’s political expertise, and agree that impeachment would do more harm than good.

NANCY PELOSI TOLD DEMS SHE WANTS TO SEE TRUMP ‘IN PRISON’: REPORT

“She is the single smartest strategist that we’ve ever had…People are not wanting to second guess her because she’s been right on so many fronts,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., told the Washington Post.

But other Democratic lawmakers, like Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., admit they toe the party line out of fear.

“One, you want to be a team player and support the leader’s position, but secondly you’re worried about your own self and…what can happen if you don’t follow along,” Schrader told the paper.

Some argue that President Trump’s defiance of congressional investigators will eventually break the divide between moderate Democrats and its liberal wing.

TRUMP APPEARS TO HAVE INADVERTENTLY INFUSED DEMOCRATIC INVESTIGATIONS AFTER ABC INTERVIEW

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., described Pelosi’s hold over Democrats as “fragile” because “we’re kind of one event, one piece of explosive testimony, one action by Trump away from that dam collapsing.”

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The Democrats’ pro-impeachment camp howled this week after Trump said in an interview with ABC that he’d be willing to listen if a foreign government had dirt on an opponent. Yet despite the familiar refrain of impeachment, Pelosi didn’t budge an inch on impeachment after Trump’s comments.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram contributed to this report.

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Trump asks Mulvaney to leave Oval Office for coughing during ABC interview

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Trump asks Mulvaney to leave Oval Office for coughing during ABC interview

President Trump was apparently so perturbed by his chief of staff coughing during an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in the Oval Office last week, that he asked his staffer to leave the room, according to a transcript from the station.

Trump had been asked a question about his tax returns when someone off camera – identified as Mulvaney – reportedly begins coughing.

“I hope they get it, because it’s a fantastic financial statement,” Trump said Stephanopoulos amid apparent coughing before saying: “And let’s do that over, he’s coughing in the middle of my answer.”

TRUMP SAYS HE WOULD ‘WANT TO HEAR’ DIRT ON 2020 RIVALS FROM FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS, SUGGESTS HE WOULDN’T CONTACT FBI

“I don’t like that, you know, I don’t like that,” Trump reportedly said of Mulvaney’s coughing. “If you’re going to couch, please leave the room. You just can’t, you just can’t cough. Boy oh boy.”

“Your chief of staff,” Stephanopoulos reportedly clarified.

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The interview, which was broadcast Sunday, proceeded with Trump saying although he wanted people to see his “phenomenal” financial statement, it’s “not up to me, it’s up to my lawyers.”

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Buttigieg says he won’t be first gay president, ‘almost certain’ we’ve had others

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Buttigieg says he won't be first gay president, 'almost certain' we've had others

Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t believe he’ll be the first gay president if elected in 2020.

“I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones,” he told “Axios on HBO.”

“I mean, statistically, it’s almost certain.”

FILE: Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a grassroots event on Friday, June 14, 2019, in Alexandria, Va.

FILE: Democratic presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a grassroots event on Friday, June 14, 2019, in Alexandria, Va.
(AP)

Asked if he possibly knew which commander-in-chief was playing for the other team, the Democratic hopeful said: “My gaydar even doesn’t work that well in the present, let alone retroactively. But one can only assume that’s the case.”

BUTTIGIEG SAYS TRUMP USING JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AS ‘HIS OWN PERSONAL LAW FIRM’

Buttigieg — who is mayor of South Bend, Ind. — has been rising in the polls as of late. He would be the first openly gay presidential candidate, if nominated next next year.

The 37-year-old has been asked in the past about the possibility of there ever being a gay president, with BuzzFeed posing the question back in March.

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“My gaydar is not great to begin with and definitely doesn’t work over long stretches of time,” he repeated. “I think we’ll just have to let the historians figure that out.”

To read more from The New York Post, click here

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