House Democrats divided on strategy to force release of Trump's tax returns


The new Democratic-controlled House is looking at proposals to compel presidents and presidential candidates to make public years of their tax returns.

The issue comes to the fore in a hearing Thursday by the Ways and Means oversight subcommittee.

"Where does it end?"

Ranking member Mike Kelly, R-Pa., said tax code rules that allow the committee to get the president's tax returns were also written to ensure the privacy of all Americans' returns.

Democrats have proposed requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns as part of ethics legislation.

Four Trump administration sources have told Politico that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin could block the tax returns' release on the grounds that Democrats would be unable to prevent someone from leaking them, which would be a felony.

"We need to see them, " said Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky of IL, adding that she understood the request must be carefully crafted.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who leads the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, said he spoke Thursday night to Trump, who he said was in "wait and see" mode.

Democrats and Republicans have been trading offers all week; any deal is likely to provide funding for technology and fencing on the southern border, according to senators and aides. "I would think he wouldn't, but I don't know what the situation" will be.

"A president of the United States is in a very unique position to individually do things, as this president has displayed probably more than most", Hoyer, D-Md., said.

Despite Pelosi's hardline stance, some Democrats said on February 8 that they're poised to give Trump several billion, and Pelosi said that she will support the deal struck by the 17-member committee. "This isn't about the tax returns of the presidents and vice-presidents but about making sure Congress does not abuse its authority".

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If the administration mounted a legal challenge over Trump's returns, "I assume that there would be a court case that would go on for a period of time", Neal, D-Mass., said just after the November election.

Joe Thorndike, director of the Tax History Project, expressed concern that such a refusal could break a historical record that has lasted over four decades.

"I would recommend that this will probably be a good down payment and what else is lacking, the delta between what you want and what you get, there are other ways to do it, and I expect the president to go it alone in some fashion", Graham said.

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight will hold a hearing Thursday afternoon to discuss the legality of presidential and vice presidential tax returns.

Trump has said multiple times during the fight for the wall that he prefers to reach a deal with Congress but regularly mentions his ability to invoke a national emergency, clearing the way to build the wall with funds from a variety of sources. "The law is on our side". Steyer is also spending $109,000 on additional advertisements demanding that Democrats request Trump's tax returns.

In January, Neal told CNN that he is "judiciously" pursuing Trump's tax returns. "And the president, I think, has embraced the idea that there may actually be something better than a concrete wall would have been anyway".

"I'm guessing that would be where the Democrats would be coming from, when the Republicans would be saying, 'Look, give us more money for the wall and higher ICE beds'".

"I would expect the President to use every legal means he can to keep that from happening".

Rep. Kay Granger, the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said the negotiators are trying to put together a final package by Monday. "It's just as wrong (as) if Nixon were doing it".

Negotiators hope a deal can be sealed by Sunday night, so that the House can take it up early next week ahead of the February 15 deadline.Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated to negotiators she will observe a new three-day review rule in the Democratic House, presenting a fairly hard deadline over the next few days.

"The American people deserve to know whether their executive stands to personally benefit" or be influenced because of his business dealings, said Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, D-Calif.