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 TrumpNew Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Ocasio-Cortez: Trump contributed less in taxes 'than waitresses and undocumented immigrants' Third judge orders Postal Service to halt delivery cuts 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 preparing for House to decide presidency if neither Trump or Biden win electoral college: report Trump seeks boost from seniors with 0 drug discount coupons GOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November 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 KildeeLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal Democrats set to hold out for big police reform More than 100 Democrats press Trump to extend jobless benefits 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 PascrellDemocrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Trump didn't pay income tax for 10 of 15 years before 2016 election: NYT Rep. Bill Pascrell named chair of House oversight panel 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 MnuchinHouseholds, businesses fall into financial holes as COVID aid dries up Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election MORE rejected a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Trump didn't pay income tax for 10 of 15 years before 2016 election: NYT Centrist Democrats got their COVID bill, now they want a vote 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 ShermanSherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel Castro launches bid for House Foreign Affairs gavel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP senators at odds over next stimulus bill 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 WydenHillicon Valley: Subpoenas for Facebook, Google and Twitter on the cards | Wray rebuffs mail-in voting conspiracies | Reps. raise mass surveillance concerns On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Democratic senators ask inspector general to investigate IRS use of location tracking service 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 BradyBusinesses, states pass on Trump payroll tax deferral Trump order on drug prices faces long road to finish line On The Money: US deficit hits trillion amid pandemic | McConnell: Chance for relief deal 'doesn't look that good' | House employees won't have payroll taxes deferred 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 YarmuthPelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power GOP, White House struggle to unite behind COVID-19 relief House seeks ways to honor John Lewis MORE (D-Ky.) told reporters.

— Mike Lillis contributed.