(CNSNews.com) - The idea that Congress can use the IRS as a political weapon "is incorrect both as a matter of statutory law and constitutionally," President Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow told ABC's "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday.
"We should not be in a situation where individual private tax returns are used for political purposes. As you just said, George, what stops another party from doing the same thing?"
Stephanopoulos asked Sekulow if President Trump plans to do that -- to ask members of Congress to produce their tax returns:
"No, no. He hasn't. Congress has," Sekulow replied:
The majority party in the House has, the president has not. The president has not asked for Nancy Pelosi's tax returns, which, by the way, and it's in the letter that my colleague sent forward on this issue. They have not asked for or...they've not produced their tax returns. It's not a requirement that they do, by the way.
So this idea that you're using a hearing, a Ways and Means hearing, about IRS enforcement as a way to get to the president's private individual and business tax returns makes no sense, both constitutionally and statutorily. And, look, this -- I think this is going to be, if necessary, we're not at that point yet, if it has to be litigated, it will be litigated.
Sekulow said the president has not ordered the IRS commissioner to do anything, one way or another, in response to the congressional request for six years of his business and personal tax returns. Sekulow said he and Trump's other attorneys have objected to the request, as is their right.
In a letter to the Treasury Department's legal office, one of Trump's attorneys wrote:
If the IRS acquiesces to Chairman Neal’s request, it would set a dangerous precedent. As Secretary Mnuchin recently told Congress, he is “not aware that there has ever been a request for an elected official’s tax returns.” For good reason. It would be a gross abuse of power for the majority party to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass, and intimidate their political opponents. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, the ensuing tit-for-tat will do lasting damage to our nation.
Can the Chairman request the returns of his primary opponents? His general-election opponents? Judges who are hearing his case? The potential abuses would not be limited to Congress, as the President has even greater authority than Congress to obtain individuals’ tax returns. 26 U.S.C. §6103(g). Congressional Democrats would surely balk if the shoe was on the other foot and the President was requesting their tax returns. After all, nearly 90% of them have insisted on keeping their tax returns private, including Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer, Representative Nadler, Representative Schiff, and Representative Neal himself.
As CNSNews.com reported in February, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) apparently has no intention of voluntarily releasing her own tax returns, even as she demands those of President Trump.
Pelosi "will gladly release her tax returns if and when she runs for president," her Chief of Staff Drew Hammill tweeted, following repeated questions from CNSNews.com. Pelosi is not running for president, although as Speaker, she is third in line for the presidency.
H.R. 1, which is co-sponsored by Pelosi, would force the president and vice president, but not members of Congress, to make their tax returns public.