President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the IRS, longtime tax lawyer Charles Rettig, breezed through his confirmation hearing Thursday with the Senate Finance Committee.
Senators on both sides mostly questioned Rettig about his views on tax administration issues, including the agency’s work to implement the new tax law. Rettig, who is currently with the Beverly Hills-based firm Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez, PC, largely escaped the sort of grilling that many of Trump’s nominees for high-level posts have faced in the past.
The most pointed questions came from Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, top Democrat on the Finance Committee, who criticized Rettig for not making senators aware that he owned condos at a Trump International property in Hawaii.
“It’s going to be particularly important for Mr. Rettig to demonstrate his independence, given that Mr. Rettig did not fully disclose to the Finance Committee staff that the condos he owns and rents out [are] in a Trump-branded and managed property,” Wyden said. “Disclosing that information may not have been required by law. My view is it would have been a smart exercise of judgment.”
Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, said that Rettig did properly disclose his ownership of the properties and that the dispute was only about “the name on the side of the building.”
“Any suggestion that there is a conflict of interest here is the stuff of conspiracy theories,” Hatch said.
Rettig later said he would strive to be seen as “staunchly independent, or more so,” from the White House.
Wyden also questioned Rettig’s management experience. “There is a big difference between managing 35 [employees] and managing 70,000,” he said.
If confirmed, Rettig would replace acting commissioner David Kautter, who is also the assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy.