US threatens ‘powerful’ sanctions against Turkey

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin put Turkey on notice that it could face new “powerful sanctions” and that the U.S. will “shut down the Turkish economy” if Ankara goes too far in its incursion against the Kurds in northern Syria. (Oct. 11)

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Mnuchin: No meeting planned between Trump-Rouhani

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says President Donald Trump has no plans to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani while he’s in New York later this month. Mnuchin said Thursday that such a meeting is “not planned at the moment.” (Sept. 12)

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Mnuchin, Lighthizer headed to China for more talks

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is heading back to China next week to further talks aimed at resolving a trade battle between Washington and Beijing. (July 24)

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US: Facebook currency plan ripe for illicit use

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the Trump administration has concerns that the new digital currency planned by Facebook could be used for illicit activity such as money laundering, human trafficking and financing terrorism. (July 15)

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US: Iran sanctions lock up ‘billions of dollars’

After President Donald Trump signed an order targeting Iran’s supreme leader and associates with additional financial sanctions, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the move will ‘lock up literally billions of dollars of assets.’ (June 24)

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Mnuchin: $20 bill redesign with Tubman on hold

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that a decision by his predecessor, Jacob Lew, to put African-American abolitionist leader Harriett Tubman on the $20 bill would be delayed and will not happen in 2020. (May 22)

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What Congress Can Do When A President Ignores Its Subpoenas (HBO)

Tensions between the White House and Congressional Democrats hit a new high yesterday, after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the IRS would not turn over Donald Trump’s tax returns to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who requested them last month.

A 1924 law requires the IRS to obey the request, but Mnuchin said he was turning it down because it wasn’t being made a legitimate legislative purpose.

This isn’t a one-off. Instead, it’s part of a bigger pattern of Trump rejecting congressional oversight of all kinds. Today, for instance, the White House said it had instructed former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a congressional subpoena for documents related to the Mueller Report. And in just the past week, Attorney General William Barr refused to show up to testify at the House Judiciary Committee in a dispute over who would get to question him, and ignored a subpoena requiring him to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report.

Congressional Democrats are fulminating in response. But the tools they have to compel the president to cooperate with their investigations are, in practice, pretty limited. They can:

1) Vote for contempt-of-Congress charges against Trump officials who ignore subpoenas. Criminal contempt charges can result in jail time. But the catch is that any such charge has to be referred to a US Attorney for prosecution. And since US Attorneys work for Trump’s Justice Department, there’s almost no chance that those charges will ever be prosecuted.

2) File suit against the administration in court, which could result in a court order requiring the administration to obey the subpoena. But that process is a long and drawn-out one, and there’s no guarantee, in the end, that the administration would even follow the court order.

3) Take the direct route, and order the sergeant-at-arms to arrest recalcitrant Trump officials. This sounds bizarre, but the Supreme Court has held that Congress has the authority to use its own police to enforce its dictates. The problem is that the last time Congress did this was back in 1935, and trying to arrest someone like the Secretary of the Treasury would leave the Democrats in completely uncharted waters.

Which means what we’re likely to get is what we’ve been getting: Democrats complaining and Trump stonewalling.

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