Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told House lawmakers yesterday that his department had discussed the potential release of President Trump’s tax returns with White House lawyers.

It was the first public acknowledgment that such discussions have taken place. Mr. Mnuchin, whose department oversees the I.R.S., will have a role in deciding whether to honor Democrats’ request for the president’s tax returns.

The Treasury secretary said that he hadn’t personally spoken with anyone from the White House, and that the discussions so far had been “informational.” He added that he had not been briefed on the talks otherwise.

Democrats have demanded the returns under a legal statute that they say gives them a right to the information. Mr. Trump and his staff have said they will fight the request.

Mr. Mnuchin deflected questions on how he will proceed. He told lawmakers that he wouldn’t let politics interfere with his decision, but added that Mr. Trump had a right to privacy.

Democrats were angry. “I think the fact that there was any communication with the White House about this is deeply troubling and certainly violates the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law,” Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York said.