U.S. House panel chairman subpoenas Trump's tax returns

A sign announces the closing of Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City N.J

Mr. Mnuchin told the panel he wouldn't provide the President's tax records because the panel's request "lacks a legitimate legislative goal", as Supreme Court precedent requires.

"While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material", Neal said in a statement announcing the subpoenas.

Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) issued a subpoena to Mnuchin and also to Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig.

Mr. Neal originally demanded access to Mr. Trump's tax returns in early April.

Neal predicted to reporters in the past several weeks an impending legal fight with the administration, which has so far refused to cooperate with several ongoing congressional inquiries by House Democrats.

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The administration told former White House Counsel Don McGahn to ignore a House Judiciary Committee subpoena demanding documents related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Democrats say the returns include information about Trump and his business dealings that is critical to their constitutional oversight duties.

Unlike other requests for information coming from House Democrats, Mr Neal is relying on a decades-old tax statute - 6103 - that says that the House Ways and Means chairman, Senate Finance Committee chairman or chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation can request any individual's tax information in the course of their legislative business. Democrats believe the returns could shed light on the president's alleged income from overseas.

Acting in his capacity as a private citizen, Trump and his umbrella Trump Organization, sued to block the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to prevent it from obtaining tax records from his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA LLP.

But Mnuchin rejected the request this week, telling Neal that he was relying on Department of Justice advice that the request "lacks a legitimate legislative objective".

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Now, the fight for Mr Trump's taxes will largely move out of Mr Neal's hands. He maintains that the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of tax returns of all sitting presidents, a way to justify his claim that the panel has a potential legislative objective.

Trump has repeatedly asked aides as to the status of the House request and has not signaled a willing to cooperate with Democrats, according to a White House official and two Republicans close to the White House.

On Monday, Mnuchin denied Neal's formal April 3 request for the returns, arguing that the committee request lacked "a legitimate legislative goal".

He expressed doubts about the legality of the Democrats' request at the time.

However, Congress may still be able to get access to Mr. Trump's state tax returns.

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