Last week, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) formally alerted the Treasury Department that he's demanding access to Donald Trump's tax returns. In fact, the powerful lawmaker set a deadline: the IRS would have to make the materials available by April 10.
That, of course, is today.
At the White House this morning, a reporter noted the legal requirements in this area, and the president gave every indication that his administration will ignore that deadline.
"There is no law. As you know, I got elected last time with this same issue, and while I'm under audit, I won't do it.... There's no law whatsoever.... I would love to give them, but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit. It's very simple.... I have no obligation to do that while I'm under audit."
First, Trump has clung to the "under audit" talking point for years, and it's never made sense.
Before his election, the Republican used this as excuse, but never offered any proof that the audit existed outside of his imagination. After Trump's election, it's true that every president since Watergate has had his tax returns audited automatically, but other modern presidents -- from both parties -- didn't see the need for secrecy. Barack Obama, for example, posted his tax returns online for the public to review, despite the annual audit.
Trump could do the same thing today, but for reasons he still hasn't explained, he doesn't want to. The president said this morning that he'd "love to" disclose his tax returns, which would be far easier to believe if he actually did that, as he's free to do at any time.
Second, when Trump says there's "no law whatsoever" in this area, he's overlooking one inconvenient statute.