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 TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Threat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Trump denies 'tantrum' in meeting with Pelosi: 'It is all such a lie!' 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 KildeeOn The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency Democrats sense new momentum in Trump tax return fight Hollywood stars celebrate #RightToBearArts at DC gala 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 PascrellOn The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency Pelosi employs committee chairs to tamp down calls for Trump impeachment Democrats sense new momentum in Trump tax return fight 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 - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Democrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle No agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess MORE rejected a request from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealDemocrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle On The Money: Judge rules banks can give Trump records to House | Mnuchin pegs debt ceiling deadline as 'late summer' | Democrats see momentum in Trump tax return fight | House rebukes Trump changes to consumer agency Bill allowing Congress to obtain Trump's New York tax returns heads to governor's desk 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 ShermanDems say NYT report on Trump's business losses boosts need to see president's tax returns Some Dem chairmen have changed tune on Trump impeachment Dems seek to rein in calls for impeachment 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 WydenDemocrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle Momentum grows to create 'Do Not Track' registry Senate chairman says bipartisan health care package coming Thursday 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 BradyDemocrats seize on IRS memo in Trump tax battle Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax Microsoft, other business leaders head to Capitol Hill in support of carbon tax 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 YarmuthNancy Pelosi fends off impeachment wave — for now CBO: Medicare for All gives 'many more' coverage but 'potentially disruptive' Congress, White House near deal on spending, debt limit MORE (D-Ky.) told reporters.

— Mike Lillis contributed.