Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin hinted Thursday that he would protect the privacy of President Donald Trump when he received a request from Democrats in the House to get Trump's tax returns. (March 14)

WASHINGTON – Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin suggested Thursday to protect the privacy of President Donald Trump if he receives a request from Democrats in the House for Trump's tax returns.

At a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee, Mnuchin was asked whether he would proceed with a request for Trump's previous income tax returns. President Richard Neal, representative of D-Mass., Should formally request this information as Democrats seek to shed light on Trump's financial dealings and potential conflicts of interest.

"We will consider the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer" with respect to their right to privacy, said Mnuchin.

Neal is one of only three congressionally authorized representatives under a 1924 law rarely used to make a written application for tax return to anyone to the Secretary of the Treasury. The law states that the Chief of the Treasury will "provide" the documents requested to committee members for examination in camera. But Mnuchin did not specifically say that he would return them.

This unprecedented decision would probably trigger an enormous legal battle between the Trump administration and the Democrats who control the House. The fight could take years to resolve, possibly beyond the 2020 presidential election.

Neal could move in the next few weeks to request the documents. "It's happening and it's happening, so be prepared," said Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J. In Mnuchin at the hearing.

More: "It's not just a matter of sending a letter:" Democrats act slowly at the request of Trump's tax returns

More: Trump's tax returns show the president paid $ 38 million in 2005, according to the White House

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and his wife Louise Linton, hold a sheet of new dollar notes, the first banknotes bearing the signatures of his treasurer and US Treasurer Jovita Carranza, on November 15, 2017 at Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP). ) in Washington. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP)

Democrats say Trump's search for tax documents is part of their Congressional oversight mandate; Republicans accuse Democrats of using powers provided in the tax laws to organize a political witch hunt. Republican legislators have raised concerns about the confidentiality and confidentiality of all tax documents, suggesting that Democrats would disclose Trump's statements in order to make them public.

Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, hinted that Democrats may have difficulty proving that their request was to exercise legitimate Congressional oversight and was not a political treasure hunt.

Mnuchin was asked if Trump had intervened in any way or asked him to ignore the expected demand for tax returns. "He's not," replied Mnuchin. He said he had not discussed the issue with anyone in the White House or with Trump's lawyers.

Trump has broken with decades of tradition for presidential candidates by refusing to release his tax returns during his 2016 campaign. He said he will not release them because he is being audited. , even as IRS officials have stated that the taxpayers audited are free to publish their statements. At a press conference following the November election, Trump asserted that the deposits were too complex to be understood.

More: Republicans warn that Trump's tax returns could "open a Pandora's box"

In his detailed testimony before a House committee last month, Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, said he had asked Trump for documents for the audit to prepare Trump's response. to reporters on the subject, but that he had never received any documentation. Cohen stated that this led him to assume that Trump was not audited.

Getting Trump's return is high on the Democrats' list of priorities since they took control of the House in the November mid-term elections. Democrats have tried and failed repeatedly as a minority party in Congress to get Trump back.

They want to explore many aspects of the complex financial relationships and the Trump business empire. Among them: if there are conflicts of interest between Trump's companies and his presidential actions, if he paid the taxes correctly and if he personally benefited from the vast tax law adopted by the Republicans and promulgated at the end of 2017.

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