Pelosi sees fierce resistance from White House if Dems seek Trump’s tax returns

Democrats will likely seek to uncover President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE’s tax returns when they take control of the House in the next Congress but are expecting fierce resistance from the White House, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiWhy Omar’s views are dangerous Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration Overnight Defense: Graham clashed with Pentagon chief over Syria | Talk grows that Trump will fire Coats | Coast Guard officer accused of domestic terrorism plot MORE (D-Calif.) predicted Thursday.

Pelosi, who is likely to become Speaker early next year, said the decision will ultimately fall to the Democratic leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has the unique power to request individual tax returns, including those of the president. That panel will be headed by Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDems want info from IRS about new tax forms On The Money: Smaller tax refunds put GOP on defensive | Dems question IRS on new tax forms | Warren rolls out universal child care proposal | Illinois governor signs bill for minimum wage High stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks MORE (D-Mass.) in the 116th Congress.

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“I think they see a path in that direction,” Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. “[But] I think it’s a little more challenging than you might think.”

“Yes, there is popular demand for the Congress to request the president’s tax returns. [Ways and Means] will have their path as we go forward,” Pelosi continued.

“I’m sure the White House will resist, and so the question is, where do we go from there?" 

Democrats have repeatedly sought to force the disclosure of Trump's returns, only to be brushed aside by Republicans, who have argued the need to protect the privacy of their ally in the White House.

Democrats have different thoughts, arguing that the public is entitled to learn if the president's vast business empire poses any conflicts of interest, particularly amid the ongoing probe into Russia’s election interference and potential collusion with the Trump campaign team.

Democrats have forced votes seeking Trump’s returns, both on the floor and within the Ways and Means Committee, but Republicans have been near-unanimous in rejecting those efforts. Rep. Walter JonesWalter Beaman JonesHouse pays tribute to Walter Jones GOP leader presses Trump to agree to border deal House passes resolution honoring Walter Jones MORE (R-N.C.), a frequent Trump critic, has been the only Republican to join the Democrats in voting to secure the documents. Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordEndorsing Trump isn’t the easiest decision for some Republicans Mark Sanford warns US could see ‘Hitler-like character’ in the future House passes year-end tax package MORE (R-S.C.), another Trump detractor, has repeatedly voted “present” on those measures.

Trump flouted long-standing convention among presidential candidates when he refused to release his tax returns on the campaign trail two years ago — the first such refusal since Richard Nixon. Trump has said an ongoing IRS audit prevents such a release — an argument the IRS itself has refuted.

Pelosi on Thursday mocked Trump’s audit argument, relaying a message she received from a kitchen worker at the Willard Hotel, where she recently attended a human rights event.

“This is a newcomer to America in the back of the hotel restaurant, saying, ‘When the president says the [Robert] Mueller investigation is going on too long, just tell him not as long as your audit, Mr. President,’” Pelosi said.

“The wisdom from the kitchen of the Willard Hotel.”