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 TrumpNational Archives says it altered Trump signs, other messages in Women's March photo Dems plan marathon prep for Senate trial, wary of Trump trying to 'game' the process Democratic lawmaker dismisses GOP lawsuit threat: 'Take your letter and shove it' 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 PelosiRepublicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Trump chooses high-profile but controversial legal team Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders 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 KildeePelosi digs in on impeachment rules fight Pelosi faces decision on articles of impeachment Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks 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 PascrellHouse approves Trump's USMCA trade deal amid shadow of impeachment A solemn impeachment day on Capitol Hill Van Drew, set to switch parties, will vote as a Democrat on 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 MnuchinSecurity for Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits cost local taxpayers million On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico | Senate Dems launch probe into Trump tax law regulations | Trump announces Fed nominees Senate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations MORE rejected a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTreasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program House poised to hand impeachment articles to Senate House to vote Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment to Senate 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 ShermanTrump-Pelosi trade deal creates strife among progressives The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by UANI — GOP, Democrats square off at final impeachment hearing Live coverage: Democrats, Republicans seek to win PR battle in final House impeachment hearing 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: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Progressives raise red flags over health insurer donations | Republican FTC commish backs Medicare negotiating drug prices | Trump moves to protect money for religious groups 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 BradyTrump economic aide says new tax proposal could be unveiled this summer Hoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills On The Money: House approves Trump USMCA deal in bipartisan vote | Senate sends .4T spending bill to Trump's desk | Why budget watchdogs are howling over the spending deal 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 YarmuthBlue Dogs push Democrats to pass budget Democrats don't expect to do 2020 budget Trump shocks, earns GOP rebukes with Dingell remarks MORE (D-Ky.) told reporters.

— Mike Lillis contributed.