High ranking Democrats are now calling for IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to be fined, or even possibly jailed over their refusal to hand over documents relating President Trump’s tax returns. Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is seeking access to the returns made the call in a recent interview.
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The mechanism that Doggett wants to use to force action by the two officials is “inherent contempt of Congress”. Similar to contempt of court, the move can be used by Congress when someone is basically impeding an official investigation.
“I believe that there is no legal advice that will stop the lawlessness and lies of this administration, and that is why Congress needs to act firmly now to use every tool it has available to get this information that Trump so fears that the public will see,” Doggett said during an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow earlier this week.
“To take action, I believe it’s going to require fines or confinement under our power of inherent contempt to get the information we need and to get all these other people that, under what seems to be gang rule, are told don’t say anything and don’t provide anything,” he continued. “Total silence, total obstruction.”
“The subpoena is directed to the IRS commissioner,” Doggett explained. “But Secretary Mnuchin has never let him answer the questions—he responds with all the answers.”
“I think that both of them could be subject to fines or confinement,” he said. “I think you know there are so many people out there from [former White House counsel Don] McGahn to [Attorney General Bill] Barr, to others that are refusing to disclose and respond to the Congress.”
He added: “It’s probably a matter of selecting one of them and moving forward to show how this power of inherent contempt could work.”
The issue is being brought further to a head after the Washington Post recently released an internal IRS memo it received that said that Presidential tax returns must be released unless the President exercises his executive privilege on the documents, a move that Trump so far hasn’t made an attempt to do.
Here is the full Maddow segment between Doggett and Maddow.