Republicans risk destroying their own future powers by not speaking up about Mnuchin breaking the law: Congressman

With Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin now refusing to furnish President Donald Trump's tax returns to Congress, the administration is now violating federal law.

It is not only Trump's opponents who should be outraged, said Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." Republicans should also be troubled — because if Trump gets away with it, that would set a stark precedent against a future GOP Congress from conducting oversight into a Democratic president.

"To all of us — and I include my Republican colleagues in this — they need to decide whether they're gonna support this strategy, because it wasn't that long ago, in fact it was two or three years ago, that they were investigating President Obama," Himes told Cooper. "And of course, the usual dance obtained in some cases the Obama Administration didn't produce stuff as fast as the Republican Congress wanted, but eventually they did."

"So now, the Republicans need to decide, are they going to validate this strategy, which makes ineffective congressional oversight?" Himes continued. "They will once again, at some point in the future, want to conduct oversight over a Democratic president."

Those congressional powers to check the president, Himes added, are substantial.

"Congress has its own authority through processes like inherent contempt, like its control of the purse strings — there are other tools that Congress can use to try to motivate the executive to do what every other president has done in 240 years, which is submit to the oversight of the co-equal branch of government known as the Congress," concluded Himes.

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