Donald Trump 'Thinks He's a Dictator,' CNN Guest Claims, as IRS Misses President's Tax Return Deadline

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist David Cay Johnston said that President Donald Trump was a dictator in the making, after the IRS missed a second House committee deadline to hand over Trump's tax returns.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal requested six years of the president's tax returns from the IRS. The latest deadline for the IRS to deliver the documents passed at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Neal's previous deadline was April 10.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter to Neal, saying his department would make a decision on whether or not to release Trump's tax returns by May 6. Mnuchin said the Treasury Department was still consulting with the Justice Department on compliance.

"They can play this game for a while, but not very long," Johnston told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Tuesday evening after the deadline passed, saying the Treasury Department would now use the letter of the law to delay what will eventually become a legal fight in the courts.

Johnston said the Trump administration was trying to argue in the case of Trump's tax returns—and the many other requests for information, documents and witnesses from the White House—that Congress did not have an oversight function.

The Trump administration has refused to comply with the various House committees investigating the president, citing executive privilege and accusing Democrats of abusing their congressional powers. Democrats, however, said they had many legitimate concerns about the Trump presidency.

"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."

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News on Tuesday that Trump's tax returns were still in audit at the IRS but once out, he would consider releasing them. The IRS has said that nothing prevents a president from releasing tax returns while under audit, reported PolitiFact. Richard Nixon released his tax returns while he was being audited, and Trump is the first president since Nixon to not release his tax returns.

Gidley said the tax returns issue was fought in 2016, and Trump won the election.

"He turned over hundreds of pages of a financial disclosure form during the campaign. Everyone knows he's a very successful billionaire. He's had a lot of success in the business world. But people see what he's been able to accomplish, and there is nothing nefarious there at all," Gidley said.

"They tried these types of ridiculous tactics in the past to push things like his tax returns. It has already been litigated in the court of public opinion and the election.

"The president won fairly and squarely. He is the president, and no one cares about ridiculous charges about tax returns and all types of other things Democrats are doubling down on today."

In his letter to Chairman Neal on Tuesday, Mnuchin wrote: "The Department cannot act upon your request unless and until it is determined to be consistent with law.

"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."

The committee's next steps are unclear, but it is likely to issue a subpoena or file a lawsuit to secure Trump's tax returns if the documents are not provided.

Donald Trump tax returns IRS
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as first lady Melania Trump listens during the 141st Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House April 22, 2019 in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Donald Trump 'Thinks He's a Dictator,' CNN Guest Claims, as IRS Misses President's Tax Return Deadline | U.S.