Dems say NYT report on Trump's business losses boosts need to see president's tax returns

Dems say NYT report on Trump's business losses boosts need to see president's tax returns
© Greg Nash

Congressional Democrats are seizing on a New York Times article published Tuesday that found President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE reported more than $1 billion in business losses from 1985 to 1994, saying the report enhances the need for the Trump administration to comply with their request for Trump's recent tax returns.

"It does tell us … that it would be useful to see his tax returns," Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) said at a public interview Wednesday hosted by The Washington Post.

Pelosi noted that the statute under which Democrats requested Trump's tax returns states that the Treasury Secretary "shall" provide requested returns.


"It doesn't say 'may,' 'should,' 'could' [or] 'under certain circumstances,'" Pelosi said. 

Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeHouse Democrat presses Pompeo over price of Trump's scrapped Denmark trip The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's new target: Elijah Cummings Pelosi backers feel vindicated after tumultuous stretch MORE (D-Mich.), a Ways and Means Committee member, said it seems that during the period of time covered by the Times report, Trump has done "everything he can in his power to avoid paying taxes."

"It makes us question whether or not he's continued that practice, and that's one of the reasons we're interested [in his tax returns]," Kildee told The Hill.

Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellBottom Line Democrats denounce Trump's attack on Cummings: 'These are not the words of a patriot' Two Democrats vow to press forward on Trump impeachment MORE (D-N.J.), another Ways and Means Committee member, added that the article demonstrates the need for Congress to see Trump's more recent tax returns.

"We now have another part of the truth," Pascrell tweeted shortly after the article was published Tuesday evening. "We need a lot more."

The comments from Pelosi and other Democrats on Capitol Hill come in the wake of a bombshell New York Times article, which reported that copies of Trump's IRS tax transcripts for 10 years in the 1980s and 1990s showed business losses of $1.17 billion.

The Times reported that Trump appeared to have lost more money during that period than nearly any other American and found that Trump only paid income taxes in two of the 10 years.

Trump responded to the report on Twitter Wednesday morning, lambasting it as a "highly inaccurate Fake News hit job" and claiming that real-estate developers in the 1980s and 1990s, "were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases."

The Times report was published one day after Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report: How will Trump be received at G-7? White House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE rejected a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats push judge for quick action on Trump tax returns lawsuit Trump argues NY tax return case should take place in DC NY files motion to keep Trump tax returns lawsuit out of DC court MORE (D-Mass.) for Trump's personal and business tax returns from 2013 to 2018. 

Neal has said he expects to decide his next steps for acquiring the tax returns by the end of the week, and has signaled that he may go straight to filing a lawsuit rather than first issuing a subpoena for the documents.

He told reporters Wednesday that the Times article is "not related to the legality of the case."


Rep. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Maxine Waters says her committee will call in Zuckerberg to testify about Libra MORE (D-Calif.), a certified public accountant, said the article raises questions about whether Trump is supporting tax policies that personally benefits him.

"It raises the question, is Trump helping guide us toward tax justice, or does he believe it's tax justice that he should pay zero income tax," he told The Hill.

Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations Wyden calls for end to political ad targeting on Facebook, Google Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (D-Ore.) said the article demonstrates why presidents should be required to release their tax returns. Trump broke with longstanding precedent in 2016 by declining to make his tax returns public. Wyden has offered legislation that would require presidents to do so, and the House passed a wide-ranging ethics bill earlier this year that would require presidents to release 10 years of personal and business tax returns.

“Releasing one’s tax returns is the lowest ethical bar for presidential candidates," Wyden said in a statement.

Congressional Republicans have opposed Democrats' request for the president's tax returns. The top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyRepublicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security The Social Security 2100 Act is critical for millennials and small business owners House panel releases documents of presidential tax return request before Trump MORE (R-Texas), said Wednesday that the Times story hasn't changed his opinion that Democrats' request for Trump's returns is inappropriate.

"It gives [Democrats] no ammunition at all," he said. "I still think this is all part of this rush to impeachment."

Democrats also said the Times report shows that the image that Trump presented during his 2016 presidential campaign of being a successful businessman was a lie.

"It certainly, I think, blows up the entire foundation of his career and his image. It should anyway," House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthWhite House won't move forward with billions in foreign aid cuts Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week Trump signs two-year budget deal MORE (D-Ky.) told reporters.

— Mike Lillis contributed.