‘This is so Venezuela’: Chris Matthews rips Dem Rep for saying Mnuchin could be ‘held’ within Capitol over Trump’s taxes

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The left’s meltdown over President Trump’s tax returns has reached a point where even MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called out Democrats for their theatrics.

The Treasury Department’s refusal to comply with a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns has set off Democrats on Capitol Hill, prompting Rep. Jackie Speier to declare on “Hardball” Monday that U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin could be “held,” presumably against his will, somewhere in the Capitol.

 

The California Democrat’s pronouncement was curiously met with some pushback from Matthews who accused her of suggesting efforts one would expect from the government of Venezuela. The MSNBC host announced he was bringing out his “sarcastic wit” in order to discuss the jail threats in the segment.

During an earlier “Morning Joe” segment, Rep. Bill Pascrell threatened Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for citing the U.S. Constitution and communicating that Trump’s tax returns would not be turned over.

“Mr. Mnuchin should remember as our treasury secretary… the code is even clearer as to what happens if you do not hand over the tax,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “There are fines. There is jail…This is serious business.”

“Can you imagine the Sergeant at Arms of the U.S. House of Representatives going to the Treasury Department demanding entrance into the Treasury building right next to the White House, demanding to be able to arrest the secretary of the Treasury because he’s not complying with this subpoena and dragging him up to some cell on Capitol Hill and putting him in there until such time as it’s decided how to proceed?” Matthews asked Speier.

“Now, I don’t think that’s going to happen nor will there be a fine exacted against the secretary of the Treasury. All these remedies that are somewhere in the pocket of the Constitution, somewhere in the statute book, how are you going to make them work?” he asked.

“They’re there for a reason,” the congresswoman replied. “Now, they haven’t been used since the 1930s, but we do have that authority, and I don’t think you should dismiss so cavalierly the – ”

“But how do you do it, though?” Matthews pressed, interrupting.

“I think we can call him to the House floor where he can be tried, he can be fined. I don’t know that we will put him in — behind bars, but there are places in the Capitol where someone could be held,” she declared. “I mean, this is so clear in the Constitution —”

“This is so Venezuela. This is so Venezuela, congresswoman,” Matthews chided, laughing.

“Well, it’s so clear in the Constitution or in the statute that you shall turn over the tax returns,” she continued. “So the fact that that hasn’t happened, that there are lackeys in these positions that are not complying with it, means that they are violating the law, and Congress does have independent authority.”

But Matthews, while he admitted he agreed with Speier’s premise, found the practical execution something that was not achievable.

“I agree completely in this sentiment and the spirit of what you say, I just wonder, how does it become operational?” he asked again.

“You believe there is a real possibility, plausibly that the U.S. Congress will send the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House to go arrest the Secretary of the Treasury? That’s plausible?” he pressed.

“I think it could happen. I think it could happen,” she replied.

“Well, that’s news,” Matthews offered.

Mnuchin, in a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee last week, called the Committee’s request “unprecedented,” and noted the “constitutional questions” that arise.

“As you have recognized, the Committee’s request is unprecedented, and it presents serious constitutional questions, the resolution of which may have lasting consequences for all taxpayers,” he wrote.

“Accordingly, the Department of the Treasury has consulted with the Department of Justice concerning the lawfulness of your request. As explained in my April 23 letter, the Committee’s statutory authority under section 6103(f) is bounded by Congress’s authority under the Constitution, and the Supreme Court has held that the Constitution requests that Congressional information demands must reasonably serve legislative purpose,” he added.

Trump noted that voters didn’t care about his tax returns when they elected him president in 2016.

He urged Democrats stuck on the issue to make it part of the 2020 election campaign.

Mnuchin, meanwhile, offered to provide a lesson in how the branches and offices of the government work.

“Although the Department is unable to provide you with the requested confidential tax returns and return information, we renew our previous offer to provide information concerning the Committee’s state interest in how the IRS conducts mandatory examinations of Presidents,” he wrote.

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