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 TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' 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 PelosiElection security bills face GOP buzzsaw Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments 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.

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

Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeDems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Dems eye repeal of Justice rule barring presidential indictments Democratic lawmaker says Trump isn't 'leaving us any choice' on impeachment 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 PascrellFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump 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 MnuchinSchiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns Schiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill MORE rejected a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealSchiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns Schiff blasts DOJ over memo on withholding Trump tax returns On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill 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 ShermanWho are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Who are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Lawmakers reintroduce bipartisan IRS bill with 'Free File' provision removed 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 WydenOn The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill On The Money: Pelosi says no debt ceiling hike until deal on spending caps | McConnell pressures White House to strike budget deal | Warren bill would wipe out billions in student debt | Senate passes IRS reform bill Senate passes bipartisan IRS modernization bill 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 BradyFirst major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides House passes bipartisan IRS reform bill without 'Free File' provision 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 YarmuthWho are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Who are the House Democrats backing Trump impeachment? Overnight Health Care: Biden infuriates abortion-rights groups with stance on Hyde Amendment | Trump tightens restrictions on fetal tissue research | Democrats plan event to scrutinize Trump's mental health MORE (D-Ky.) told reporters.

— Mike Lillis contributed.