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 Grant HatchDemocrats urge colleagues to oppose prison reform bill The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Senate GOP anger over McCain insult grows 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 Patrick BradyPush for NAFTA deal continues as uncertainty increases Tax reform postmortem reveals lethal dose of crony capitalism Trump makes Manchin top target for midterms 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 StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by CVS Health - A pivotal day for House Republicans on immigration GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Dem presidential hopefuls flock to Trump country MORE (Mich.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Firm exposes cell phone location data on US customers Overnight Finance: Watchdog weighs probe into handling of Cohen bank records | Immigration fight threatens farm bill | House panel rebukes Trump on ZTE | Trump raises doubts about trade deal with China MORE (Ore.), Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers Twitter CEO meets with lawmakers to talk net neutrality, privacy Senate Dems urge Trump to remain in Iran deal ahead of announcement MORE (Wash.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus Watchdog to probe EPA email preservation MORE (Del.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinKim Jong Un surprises with savvy power plays Overnight Energy: EPA moves to roll back chemical plant safety rule | NASA chief says humans contribute to climate change | Pruitt gets outside lawyer House lawmakers to unveil water resources bill on Friday MORE (Md.), Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Hillicon Valley: White House eliminates top cyber post | Trump order looks to bolster agency CIOs | Facebook sees spike in violent content | Senators push NIH on tech addiction | House to get election security briefing MORE (Colo.) and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators offer tax bill aimed at helping first responders McConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Trump congratulates 'special guy' Barletta on win in Pennsylvania 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.