Rep. McClintock: Dems engaging in 'weaponization of IRS' that began under Lois Lerner

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., argued on Saturday that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., weaponized the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by demanding the Treasury Department hand over President Donald Trump's tax returns.

"I think we're seeing the weaponization of the IRS," McClintock said while appearing on "America's News HQ." "It began under Lois Lerner when they turned the entire force of that powerful agency against common citizens who are simply trying to participate in our political process."

McClintock was referring to the Obama-era scandal in which IRS official Lois Lerner's division targeted conservative groups filing for tax exempt status before the 2012 presidential election.

Former President Barack Obama's administration refused to prosecute any IRS employees over the issue and Trump's administration similarly said in 2017 that it had no plans to pursue Lerner.

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McClintock's comments came after the House Ways and Means Committee subpoenaed the Treasury Department for Trump's tax returns -- coveted records that Democrats and the media have been trying to get since his 2016 campaign.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin already rejected a similar request, raising questions about whether Congress would pursue action against him as well.

“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,” Mnuchin said in a letter on Wednesday.

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Like Mnuchin, McClintock warned on Saturday about the impact of the controversy over Trump's tax returns, details of which The New York Times reported on in a story on Tuesday.

"Well, I mean we've already seen a number of the president's past tax returns leaked to the press against his will," he said. "And if they can do that to him, they can do it to anybody they disagree with. All of our tax returns are subject to that kind of politicization if this precedent is allowed to stand."