(CN) – White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that Democrats will never see President Donald Trump’s tax returns, accusing them of engaging in a “political stunt.”
On Wednesday, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., formally requested from the IRS six years of President Trump’s personal and business tax returns.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Mulvaney said the effort to obtain the president’s tax returns was politically motivated and said voters didn’t want to know about them.
“That’s an issue that was already litigated during the election,” Mulvaney said. “Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns. They knew that he didn’t and they elected him anyway.”
Neal, one of three members of Congress allowed to request the president’s tax documents, asked IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to send Trump’s returns from 2013 to 2018. The congressman also set an April 10 deadline for the tax returns.
In a statement made on Wednesday, Neal said the inquiry into President Trump’s taxes was made to determine if the mandatory audit of executive officials by the IRS is being carried out.
“My actions reflect an abiding reverence for our democracy and our institutions, and are in no way based on emotion of the moment or partisanship,” Neal said. “This request is about policy, not politics. My preparations were made on my own track and timeline.”
Under a 1924 law that was created in response to the Teapot Dome bribery scandal, Congress is allowed to review the tax returns of individuals within the executive branch. The law also requires the review to take place in “closed executive session” if the documents are given without the individual’s consent.
Mulvaney said that while the law gives reasons to allow certain congressional members to view such tax documents, a “political hit job is not one of those reasons.”
President Trump broke with a long-standing tradition of presidential candidates making their tax returns public. Trump has repeatedly said he won’t release them because he is under audit, although officials with the IRS said that taxpayers under audit can release their returns to the public.
Trump attorney William Consovoy sent a letter to the Treasury Department on Friday, asking it to deny the congressional request.
“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,” Consovoy wrote.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin previously said he would have to speak with counsel within the department before he could make a decision about releasing the returns.
If the tax returns aren’t released, Neal could file a subpoena for the documents, likely resulting in a lengthy court battle.