House Republicans on Wednesday rejected yet another effort from Democrats to make President Trump’s tax returns available to Congress, coming on the eve of former FBI Director James Comey’s expected bombshell testimony.
It’s the ninth time since late February that Democrats have forced a House floor vote on a resolution directing the committee with jurisdiction over the tax code to request Trump’s tax returns from the last decade.
The latest resolution, authored by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.), came less than 24 hours before Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee about allegations that Trump demanded his loyalty and pressured him to drop the FBI’s investigation into ousted White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.
A procedural vote on Capuano’s resolution failed, largely along party lines, as with all the other Democratic attempts to demand Trump’s tax returns.
Reps. Mark Sanford (S.C.), who voted “present,” and Walter Jones (N.C.), who voted with Democrats, have both called for Trump to release his tax returns.
Capuano argued that having the House Ways and Means Committee request the tax returns would help shed light on whether Trump has questionable financial ties.
“Clearly and unequivocally, one of the questions that must be answered for the integrity of this investigation, and therefore the integrity of the House, is whether the president himself had any undue influence in his actions,” Capuano said.
“Now, the answer may be no, and I personally hope that it is no,” he added. “At the same time, we and the American people have a right to know the answer.”
Wednesday’s vote came hours after the Senate Intelligence panel released Comey’s dramatic opening statement detailing conversations with Trump.
Comey confirmed reports that Trump asked him to “let go” of the investigation into Flynn and asked for his “loyalty” over a private dinner.
Comey will also recount a conversation in which Trump asked him to “lift the cloud” of the FBI’s investigation of alleged ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Comey said that tax returns can be useful for an investigation.
“They're useful in showing unreported income, motive. If someone hides something that's — should otherwise be a tax return indicates they might know it was criminal activity,” Comey said in response to a question from Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDemocrats draw red lines in spending fight What Republicans should demand in exchange for raising the debt ceiling Climate hawks pressure Biden to replace Fed chair MORE (D-R.I.).
Three committees in Congress — House Ways and Means, Senate Finance and the Joint Committee on Taxation — can request individual tax returns from the Treasury Department and review them in closed session.
Most of the Republicans who have called for Trump to release his tax returns say that he should make the choice to do it, instead of Congress forcing the issue.
Trump broke with four decades of precedent by refusing to release his tax returns during his 2016 presidential campaign. He has cited an ongoing IRS audit but recently suggested in an interview with The Economist that he might release his tax returns after leaving office.