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Last week, the Democratic head of a powerful U.S. House committee asked the IRS for six years of Trump's personal and business tax returns, a long-awaited request that was expected to lead to a lengthy court battle. "If I'm not under audit, I would do it, I have no problem with it, but while I'm under audit, I would not give my taxes", Trump said.

Mnuchin had testified about his plans to respond to requests for President Trump's tax returns for roughly three hours by 5pm when he reminded committee members that he had a meeting with "a foreign leader", meaning Bahrain's interior minister.

A week after Neal made his formal request for Trump's tax information, including information on eight of the President's business entities, Democrats are fully anticipating a drawn-out political and legal showdown as the administration digs in and Democrats prepare to go to court.

The law that Neal is relying on says the IRS "shall furnish" any tax return requested by the chairmen of key House and Senate committees.

Trump nearly immediately said he opposed the request, and one of his lawyers, William Consovoy, on Friday asked the Treasury Department and IRS to withhold the returns until the Justice Department issues an opinion on whether the request is legal. Mnuchin may think it is improper or inappropriate - but his refusing to hand over the tax returns would actually violate the law.

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Asked by reporters after the hearing if Treasury would meet the deadline, Mnuchin said, "In general, we try to accommodate these requests".

Mnuchin said he'd "rethink" whether he would return to sit before the committee if he was going to be poorly treated.

Congress released private tax information during the Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon and during the more recent allegations that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups during President Barack Obama's administration.

The top Republican on Ways and Means, Kevin Brady of Texas, said in a statement following Mnuchin's response that "the tax code must not to be used for political fishing expeditions".

The White House has repeatedly rebuffed calls to release the president's tax returns, maintaining its position that any effort to disclose them amounts to little more than partisan politics.

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He suggested Waters bang the gavel to adjourn the hearing.

Trump has given a range of explanations for why he has not released his tax returns. He was the recipient of her now-iconic catchphrase, "Reclaiming my time", as he attempted to evade her questions back in a 2017 hearing.

Neal has adopted a methodical approach to seeking Trump's returns. "We have said we will comply with the law".

Mnuchin told lawmakers that his department will "follow the law", but he hasn't shared the department's interpretation of the statute.

"The requests for [Trump's] private tax information are not consistent with governing law, do not advance any proper legislative objective, and threaten to interfere with the ordinary conduct of audits", said William S. Consovoy, Trump's attorney, in a statement.

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