President Donald Trump pushed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to prioritize the confirmation of his pick to be the new IRS chief counsel, even ahead of his nomination of Bill Barr to be attorney general, The New York Times reports.
Trump asked McConnell on February 5 to make confirming California tax lawyer Michael Desmond a priority, raising questions about whether Trump wanted him in place before Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee requested his tax returns from the IRS. The committee’s chairman, Massachusetts Democrat Richard Neal, formally asked the IRS for six years of Trump’s tax returns earlier this week.
Desmond previously advised the Trump administration on tax issues before Trump took office, Bloomberg News reported, and in his private practice worked alongside William Nelson and Sheri Dillon, who currently serve as tax counsels at the Trump Organization.
McConnell apparently did not act on Trump’s request as the Senate moved ahead with Barr’s nomination before Desmond was confirmed two weeks later on February 27.
Trump trying to hide tax returns:
Asked on Thursday if he would direct the IRS not to disclose his tax returns, Trump said that Democrats would have to go through his attorneys.
“They’ll speak to my lawyers,” Trump told reporters. “They’ll speak to the attorney general.”
“Democrats in the House are relying on a little-known provision of the federal tax code to try to view Mr. Trump’s personal and business tax returns,” The New York Times reported. “The provision, added in the 1920s, gives the chairmen of Congress’s tax-writing committees — including the Democrat-led Ways and Means Committee in the House — authorities to request information on any filer to review privately.”
“Mr. Trump, asked on Wednesday about the request by reporters during an Oval Office event, maintained that he was still being audited, a claim he has made for years to defend not releasing his tax returns, as previous presidents have done,” the report added.
IRS commissioner has Trump ties too:
Trump’s IRS commissioner, Charles Rettig, owns 50 percent shares of two one-bedroom residential rental units at the Waikiki Trump International Hotel and Tower in Hawaii, The Wall Street Journal reported last year. Each unit is worth $1.1 million.
Rettig argued in Forbes in 2016 that Trump should not release his tax returns four days after Trump debuted his “I’m under audit” excuse.