Mnuchin is trying to pull a Trump sleight of hand with the word “shall” that is clear as day on a statute of the tax code that has never been interpreted otherwise. He is also suggesting that the intent of the people asking him to uphold the law somehow mitigates the law.
Section 6103(f) of the tax code law commands the Treasury Secretary that “[u]pon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives . . . the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.”
They “shall furnish” tax returns to Congress.
SHALL still means SHALL even in Trump’s alternative facts world.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that while he will follow the law regarding Congress’ request for U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax returns, he is concerned that the Democrats might be using this for political disputes.
“I will follow the law,” Mnuchin said on Fox Business Network, while actually in the middle of defying the law. “We’re analyzing the law, we’re consulting with the Department of Justice,” Mnuchin added.
There is no analyzing of the law. The word means what it means and it has always meant that.
The law doesn’t change just because the person asking you to uphold it isn’t on “your side.” This is how a checked government works. This is how our system has always worked. You can’t tell a police officer who pulls you over that the law doesn’t apply to you because you feel he or she might have political intentions with their ticket.
The Congress has always checked the power of a president and investigated potential overreaches. In this case, Democrats wouldn’t have had to request Trump’s returns had Trump not falsely claimed he couldn’t release them because they were under audit. There is no such IRS rule, and every president’s tax returns are audited but they manage to release their returns.
Conservative David Frum pointed out that Trump has already undermined the rule of law by doing the opposite of executing the law faithfully, so “shall” is equally optional for his administration.
“Since President Trump has already effectively rewritten Article II to read “he may take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, if convenient for him and if he’s in the mood,” therefore other “shall”s in US legislation must be equally optional,” Frum wrote in a tweet.
These are the rules of being president. A person must be willing to be transparent so that the people can be confident the president is working in *their* best interest, not his own or another country’s or a business entity’s best interest.
The Trump administration is breaking the law at every turn, as Trump fires anyone who refuses to break the law enough to satisfy him. He isn’t upholding the law as he is charged with doing; instead, he is breaking it and then whining and screaming like a rebellious teenager when caught. This is why he’s screaming about being spied on (again today).
Mnuchin is just another Trump official who is breaking the law for this President. Trump seems to hypnotize those who work for him into believing that he is infallible and being persecuted, because he has convinced people who had good reputations and were thought of as law-abiding and of integrity (per conventional beltway thought, not sure I agree because anyone with integrity would not take a job from Trump right now) to violate the very oath they swore to uphold.
The word is shall. It is not up for debate, gaslighting, or alternative factising.
Ms. Jones is the Editor-in-Chief of PoliticusUSA and a Huffington Post contributor. She has covered President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton, VP Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, First Lady Michelle Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including regular appearances on The Ann Walker Show With Scott Nevins for UBN Radio and KPTR 1450’s California Woman 411, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, The Richard Dawkins Foundation and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Latin and Psychology, including studying the psychology of organized crime, with graduate studies in the psychology of linguistics and Latin poetry.