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

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

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 HatchHatch urged Trump to ‘speak clearly’ against hate groups The Memo: Trump tries to quiet race storm Senators push FTC to finalize changes to contact lens rule 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 BradyGOP chairman: Tax reform could increase deficit GOP thinks it has winning message on taxes GOP planning to release tax framework next month: reports 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 StabenowHead of McConnell-backed PAC: We're 'very interested' in Kid Rock Senate campaign Juan Williams: Trump and the new celebrity politics Senate Dems unveil trade agenda MORE (Mich.), Ron WydenRon WydenTrump's Democratic tax dilemma Senate Dems push Trump admin to protect nursing home residents' right to sue Overnight Finance: Trump-Russia probe reportedly expands to possible financial crimes | Cruel September looms for GOP | Senate clears financial nominees | Mulvaney reverses on debt ceiling MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats demand changes to FCC Republican nominee's confirmation Bipartisanship? It's happening to secure America's energy future Senate confirms Trump's nominee for No. 2 Interior post MORE (Wash.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperSenators push for possible FCC enforcement over Lifeline fraud Lacking White House plan, Senate focuses on infrastructure Governors-turned-senators meet to talk healthcare MORE (Del.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCongress should think twice on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act Don’t let Congress amend the First Amendment Federal anti-BDS legislation – Common sense and constitutional MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetNFL player points to Charlottesville after national anthem protest Trump quietly putting his stamp on the courts Overnight Energy: Senate begins moving energy nominations | Interior watchdog probing Zinke calls MORE (Colo.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyOPINION | 5 ways Democrats can win back power in the states The real litmus test is whether pro-life democrats vote for pro-life legislation There’s a way to protect consumers and keep good call center jobs in the U.S. 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.