Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston warned on Tuesday that President Donald Trump is a dictator in the making after the IRS missed a second House committee deadline to hand over the president’s tax returns.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal had requested six years of the president’s tax returns from the IRS to be delivered by April 10. The deadline was later extended to 5 p.m. on April 23.
In a letter to Neal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explained that his department would make a decision on whether or not to release Trump’s tax returns by May 6.
“The Department cannot act upon your request unless and until it is determined to be consistent with law,” Mnuchin wrote. “Due to the serious constitutional questions raised by this request and the serious consequences that a resolution of those questions could have for taxpayer privacy, the Department is consulting with the Department of Justice.”
Hours before Tuesday’s deadline, the White House maintained Trump’s position that he won’t consider releasing his tax returns until the IRS completes its audit. But the IRS has repeatedly said an audit doesn’t prevent him from releasing those documents.
“They can play this game for a while, but not very long,” Johnston told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday evening after the second deadline passed, saying the Treasury Department would now use the letter of the law to delay what will eventually become a battle in the courts.
Johnston said the Trump administration was trying to argue in the case of Trump’s tax returns that Congress did not have a proper oversight function.
“What you’re seeing is a dictator in the making,” Johnston told Cuomo, later adding: “Donald doesn’t know what’s in the Constitution, he thinks he’s a dictator, and he’s moving to turn this country into a Trump dictatorship.”