Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman on Saturday suggested that officials who are complicit in helping to shield President Trump’s finances, including his tax returns, from Congressional scrutiny should be held in contempt of Congress and be sent to prison.
“They have every right to get all of these documents and all of these witnesses, starting with the Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin who is refusing to turn over taxes even though there is a specific statute that provides that the IRS has to turn it over to Congress, and on top of it there is good reasons to receive those taxes,” Akerman said during an appeared on MSNBC’s Joy Reid.
“I believe Congress has to take a very hard line,” Akerman continued, noting Congress has the power to hold officials in contempt which could result in their imprisonment.
“If the Secretary of Treasury doesn’t produce those documents he ought to be held in contempt. And he ought to go to prison.”
Earlier this month, Pulitzer Prize-winning business writer David Cay Johnston published an editorial warning Sec. Mnuchin that he is currently in violation of federal law and could face up to a $10,000 fine, and be imprisoned for up to five years for failing to furnish the president’s tax returns as requested by House Democrats.
“The reason will no doubt surprise those who think Trump can thumb his nose at the law governing Congressional access to anyone’s tax returns, including his,” wrote Johnston, a specialist in economics and tax issues, in the Daily Beast. “It will for sure shock Trump, who claims that ‘the law is 100 percent on my side.’”
“Under Section 6103 of our tax code, Treasury officials ‘shall’ turn over the tax returns ‘upon written request’ of the chair of either Congressional tax committee or the federal employee who runs the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. No request has ever been refused, a host of former Congressional tax aides tell me.”
Johnston notes that there is “a law requiring every federal ’employee’ who touches the tax system to do their duty or be removed from office,” fined up to $10,000, and imprisoned for up to five years.
Even if Mnuchin and IRS commissioner Charles Rettig do comply with Democrats’ request, Johnston writes that they may still have legal problems, thanks to “the provision requiring removal from office for anyone who ‘conspires or colludes with any other person.’”