Top Republican urges Dem chairman to drop Trump tax returns effort

The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee is urging committee Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealTrump's tax returns — DOJ trying to put off the inevitable? Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits MORE (D-Mass.) to drop his effort to obtain President TrumpDonald John TrumpConway defends herself against Hatch Act allegations amid threat of subpoena How to defuse Gulf tensions and avoid war with Iran Trump says 'stubborn child' Fed 'blew it' by not cutting rates MORE's tax returns as Neal prepares to announce the next steps in his effort.

In a letter to Neal on Friday, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks Democrats talk up tax credits to counter Trump law House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits MORE (R-Texas) said that subpoenaing Trump's tax returns or filing a lawsuit to obtain them would "be an abuse of the Committee’s oversight powers and further examples of the Democrat majority’s coordinated attempt to weaponize the tax code and use Congress’s legitimate oversight authority for political gain.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

Neal sent a letter to the IRS last month requesting Trump's personal and business tax returns from 2013 to 2018. Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck Trump's tax returns — DOJ trying to put off the inevitable? GOP lawmakers want Mulvaney sidelined in budget talks MORE on Monday rejected Neal's request.

Brady's letter is not likely to prompt Neal to end his efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns. Neal has said he will announce his next steps by the end of the week and has said that he thinks the matter is headed for a legal battle.

Brady cited a recent New York Times article that described Trump's tax information from 1985 to 1994 to question Neal's motives for seeing Trump's more recent tax documents. The Times reported that Trump reported more than $1 billion in business losses in that 10-year period.

"It has been made clear that this information is not being sought to further a valid legislative purpose, but instead to try to embarrass a political enemy," Brady said.

Neal said in his initial request for Trump's tax returns that the committee wants the documents because it is interested in legislative proposals and oversight related to tax laws.

But Brady said that based on press statements made by some senior Ways and Means Committee Democrats, "it has become obvious that your supposed legislative purpose is just a pretext, and your request is merely a means to access and make public the tax returns of a single individual for purely political purposes."

When Brady was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the last Congress, Democrats on the panel urged Brady to request Trump's tax returns from Treasury and make the effort to obtain the documents bipartisan. Brady repeatedly refused to do so, arguing that doing so would be an abuse of power that threatens taxpayers' privacy rights. 

Brady reiterated his concerns about taxpayer privacy in his new letter to Neal.

"I continue to believe that all Americans have a fundamental right to the privacy of the personal information found in their tax returns," he said. “When Congress violates the rights of one taxpayer for political purposes, it begins the process of eroding the privacy rights of all taxpayers."