GOP chairmen reject Senate Dems' request on Trump's tax returns

GOP chairmen reject Senate Dems' request on Trump's tax returns
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Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee urged the panel's Republican chairman to request President Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department, but he rejected the request.

The Democratic senators asked Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin HatchGOP senator to Dems: 'What's all the whining about' on Supreme Court? Trump, time to end outsourcing ... at the IRS Hatch: I may retire if Romney runs to replace me MORE (R-Utah) on Wednesday to seek the returns "given the critical issues raised by the President’s business entanglements."

But Hatch and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin BradyTax reform an important part of pro-consumer energy policy GOP torn over what to do next Republicans vote to block resolutions on Trump's tax returns MORE (R-Texas) responded in their own letter, saying "we strongly consider the approach you suggest to be an abuse of the tax-writing committees statutory authority."

"The American people have made it clear that they want Washington to fix our broken tax code — not to target the tax returns of individual citizens," Hatch and Brady wrote.

The Senate Democrats' request came after the House on Monday rejected an attempt from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) to force a floor vote on a resolution to request Trump's tax returns. The House Ways and Means Committee had previously voted against an amendment for the panel's chairman to make such a request.

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Under federal law, the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and Joint Committee on Taxation can request tax returns from Treasury that can then be reviewed in a closed meeting.

The Senate Democrats' letter noted the recent media reports about the Trump administration and campaign having close ties to Russia. The letter also cited reports of Trump's business entanglements "which may reach around the globe."

"These unprecedented conflicts of interest pose a threat to American national security and the integrity of the government of the United States," the senators wrote.

The senators urged Hatch to request the returns of both Trump and his businesses. They wanted the Finance Committee to vote to make the returns public if the panel found "ties or relations to foreign governments" during a review of the returns.

Democrats senators that signed the letter included Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight The Hill’s Whip List: 32 Dems are against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Perdue says he will advocate for agriculture spending MORE (Mich.), Ron WydenRon WydenOvernight Tech: Bill blocking internet privacy rules heads to Trump's desk | Trump taps antitrust chief | Dems push FCC on cellphone cybersecurity Overnight Cybersecurity: First GOP lawmaker calls for Nunes to recuse himself | DHS misses cyber strategy deadline | Dems push for fix to cellphone security flaw Dem lawmakers push for FCC to tackle major cellphone security flaw MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Senators want more security funding for Jewish centers Senate passes bill ending Obama-era land rule MORE (Wash.), Tom CarperTom CarperKushner family, Chinese firm call off deal amid public scrutiny Dem senators press ethics office over Ivanka Trump's role Trump signs order to roll back Obama’s climate moves MORE (Del.), Ben CardinBen CardinSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Democrats step up calls that Russian hack was act of war Making water infrastructure a priority MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael BennetPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Trump’s budget jeopardizes America’s public lands heritage Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (Colo.) and Bob CaseyBob CaseyPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Senators call for pay equity for US women's hockey team Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (Pa.).

"The American people need to know that President Trump is looking out for the American people and frankly not his own business interest," Stabenow, who took the lead on the letter, said in a press conference Wednesday.

A leader of the upcoming Tax March in Washington praised the Democratic lawmakers' efforts.

“If President Trump continues to ignore the demands of the public to release his tax returns, and if the majority party in Congress continues to aid and abet him in this secrecy by striking down efforts to compel Trump to release his tax returns, the American people will rise up and speak with their feet on Tax Day as they march on Washington and across the country to demand transparency," said Anna Chu, a Tax March executive committee member and vice president for income security and education at the National Women’s Law Center.

But Hatch and Brady said that the Democrats' request was not in line with the legislative intent of the tax-code section that allows chairmen to request the returns. They also said there hasn't been "specific allegations of tax-related misconduct by federal officials or abuse of taxpayer rights" that would lead them to request the returns.

Additionally, the GOP chairmen said the request for Trump's tax returns is "a distraction from more pressing needs" such as overhauls to the healthcare systems and tax codes.

-updated at 7:03 p.m.