Mnuchin Grilled Over Trump’s Tax Returns Double Standard

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on 2/12/2020

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on 2/12/2020, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was grilled by Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) about the apparent double standard stemming from his department’s decision to deny a request for President Trump’s tax returns from House Democrats while at the same time gladly handing over financial records related to Hunter Biden to Senate Republicans.

Sec Mnuchin’s explanation, a plausible one, was that the request for Trump’s tax returns was governed by a different provision from the one governing records request related to Hunter Biden. According to Sec Mnuchin, the records request related to Hunter Biden was a SARS (Suspicious Activity Reports) request which he said Treasury has already released for over 1,000 individuals following requests by both Republican and Democratic committee chairs.

Specifically, Sec Mnuchin said, “The House disclosure of tax returns is subject to protections of 26 U.S.C. 6103 which on the advise of counsel as we documented, we had significant concerns. That’s very different than I believe what you[Sen Wyden] are referring to–SARS requests, which on a bipartisan basis we have responded to thousands ofSARS requests to the committees from both Republicans and Democrats on an equal basis.”

The question for House Democrats going forward is whether they can pin Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to this SARS rationale and get Treasury to release suspicious activity reports related to the Trump family from the myriad banking institutions they have been involved with, especially Deutsche Bank. This might prove particularly interesting given the fact that Attorney General William Barr’s daughter Mary Daly currently works at Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit (FINCEN), which presumably handles suspicious activity reports from the various banking institutions. Was Mary Daly installed at FINCEN for a reason? Hmm

Bottom line folks, getting Trump’s tax returns remains a very high priority for the majority of the American public. However, there are other financial records related to Trump and his family that House Democrats could pry loose using Sec Mnuchin’s SARS rationale, especially records related to Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank. Hopefully House Democrats will seize on this great opportunity Sec Mnuchin has unwittingly presented them with.

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You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com

Lev Parnas Says It Was All About Biden, Not Corruption

In an explosive interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow show, Lev Parnas, the indicted Ukrainian-American at the very center of President Trump’s impeachment saga, appears to have dealt a death blow to Trump’s defense when he told host Maddow that all Trump wanted from President Zelensky of Ukraine was dirt on Biden and that he was never interested in rooting out corruption in the country.

Parnas told Maddow, “It[Ukrainegate]was all about Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and also Rudy [Giuliani]had a personal thing with the Manafort stuff, the black ledger. That was another thing that they were looking into. But it was never about corruption, it was strictly about Burisma which included Hunter Biden and Joe Biden.”

This is a very problematic revelation for the Trump team because their entire defense has been that as President, Trump had every right to deny aid to Ukraine if he felt that hard earned U.S. tax dollars would be misappropriated by corrupt Ukrainian officials.

Republican Senators, especially those from swing states who are up for reelection this year, have found it impossible to defend Trump against allegations that he sought help from a foreign country (Ukraine) to dig up dirt on his political opponent (Biden). These Senators have instead rested on the more palatable anti-corruption defense.

If Parnas’ allegation that this was all about Joe Biden pans out, and all indications are that they will, then the vulnerable Republican Senators who have relied on the anti-corruption defense will have no leg to stand on and may be forced to do the unthinkable–put the country’s interests over the GOP and vote to remove Trump from office .

Bottom line folks, we all know that Washington and indeed the rest of the country has become deeply polarized as a result of the Trump presidency. Under any other normal administration, the revelations brought forward by Ukrainegate would be enough to garner bipartisan support both in the House and Senate for a president’s impeachment and removal from office. It will be interesting to see whether partisanship in Washington has become so bad under Trump, that he is allowed to get away with his very troubling conduct re Ukrainegate–the quintessential “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

For those of you very happy with @Emolclause’s activism don’t shy away from the “tip jar” below on your way out.

You may reach the author via email at author@grassrootsdempolitics.com or author@emolumentsclause.com