For Richard Nixon, the fatal “third rail” was his secret tapes. For Trump, it may be his secret tax returns.
That issue will test the true resolve of Congress to show its independence. While they can’t jail the President, they can cite Mnuchin for contempt of Congress, and the courts have been sympathetic to that in the past.
A close parallel happened in 1982, after the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Anne Gorsuch Burford, refused to hand over documents related to the mismanagement of a $1.6 billion toxic waste superfund. When Congress passed a citation for contempt, the U.S. attorney refused to prosecute, asking a federal court to instead rule the citation unconstitutional. The court refused, so President Reagan’s team had to give up the documents to keep Burford out of jail.
I think we know that Trump will not follow Reagan’s example and give up the documents to keep Mnuchin out of jail, so hilarity should ensue! I think a little jail time for Mnuchin would be fun for everyone!
Well, maybe not everyone, but certainly for me!
To be fair, ol’ Munchkin didn’t actually say he would refuse the request. That’s just how people have interpreted his statement. He said, “We will examine the request and we will follow the law … and we will protect the president as we would protect any taxpayer.”