Maxine Waters, Mnuchin Go Mano a Mano

Rep. Richard Neal leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol Jan. 4 2019

This is a hard lesson that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin learned on Tuesday when he showed out during his testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee, which Waters leads.

Speaking at a separate hearing of a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, Mnuchin said: "We would not ever ask for the White House's permission on this nor did they give us the permission". As you know, I got elected last time with this same issue...

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney suggested that the American people will "never" see Trump's tax returns.

See, the President Trump appointed advisor was upset that his testimony was taking too long-over three hours-and that he had a meeting to attend.

"We need to make sure that the IRS and the individual taxpayer info does not become subject to political wills", said Mnuchin on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund. Neal is relying on a 1920s-era law that says the IRS "shall furnish" any tax return requested by the chairmen of key House and Senate committees.

At a Wednesday hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig was pressed for a second day by Democrats about the request and whether he'd respond alone to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal's letter to obtain six years of Trump's tax returns. But asking for the president's tax returns is uncharted territory, a fact that the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee was cognizant of as he was waiting to make the request.

Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., citing a long list of Trump administration officials who have departed, pressed Mnuchin on whether he was anxious about being fired if he complied with the request. He said the department would likely respond by Neal's deadline but didn't say whether he would provide the returns as demanded. Mnuchin, probably remembering the power that a congressional committee chair wields, stayed for another 15 minutes of questions and then told Waters, "I look forward to being back in May, and we will work on a date".

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"I have the gavel at this point", Waters said.

Waters replied sharply, "Do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this hearing".

The public back-and-forth exposed the rancor between Mnuchin and Waters, a California Democrat who has promised aggressive oversight of President Donald Trump's administration and has long advocated for his impeachment. He said he could handle a small delay, but told Waters that "it will be embarrassing" if he kept the official waiting.

The suggestion here seems to be that if Waters understood the wealth that Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive, perhaps she would be more amenable to his needs, because, he's super wealthy?

Waters: You're free to leave any time you want.

"The requests for [Trump's] private tax information are not consistent with governing law, do not advance any proper legislative objective, and threaten to interfere with the ordinary conduct of audits", said William S. Consovoy, Trump's attorney, in a statement. Neal made a case for this in his letter, writing that the request was part of his committee's oversight role, with the objective of determining whether the IRS is fairly and impartially auditing Trump.

Before traveling to Texas on Wednesday, Trump reiterated that he won't be releasing his tax returns while he is now under audit.

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