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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has rejected House Democrats' request to turn over President Trump's tax returns for the third time.

"In reliance on the advice of the Department of Justice, I have determined that the Committee's request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose, and pursuant to section 6103, the Department is therefore not authorized to disclose the requested returns and return information."

The big picture: After several delays, Mnuchin had sent a letter to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) informing him that the Treasury Department would consult with the Justice Department and decide by May 6 whether to release Trump's tax returns to Congress. Mnuchin's latest refusal is the most definitive and will likely set up a prolonged court battle between the Trump administration and House Democrats.

  • White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said last month on Fox News that Democrats will "never" get their hands on Trump's tax returns: "The Democrats are demanding that the IRS turn over the documents, and that is not going to happen, and they know it. This is a political stunt by my former colleagues."
  • Monday's refusal is part of a broader strategy by the Trump administration to ignore document requests and subpoenas by House Democratic committees attempting to conduct oversight.
  • As Axios has previously reported, those subpoenas are hard to enforce, and even holding Trump officials in contempt — as the House Judiciary Committee is seeking to do with Attorney General Bill — likely won't result in any serious consequences.

Chairman Richard Neal said in a statement: "Today, Secretary Mnuchin notified me that the IRS will not provide the documents I requested under Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response."

Mnuchin's letter:

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

8 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.