On The Money: Dems mark Trump tax returns as key part of agenda | Waters defends planned probe of Trump finances after GOP backlash | Reports: Trump mulls replacing Commerce chief Ross by end of year

On The Money: Dems mark Trump tax returns as key part of agenda | Waters defends planned probe of Trump finances after GOP backlash | Reports: Trump mulls replacing Commerce chief Ross by end of year
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Happy Friday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Dems mark Trump tax returns as key part of agenda: House Democrats want to get their hands on President TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE’s tax returns, and plan to make the issue a key part of their agenda upon taking the majority next year.

Democrats were frustrated during the 2016 presidential race when Trump broke with decades of precedent and refused to make his returns public. Their interest in getting their eyes on his returns has only grown during Trump’s first two years in office.

A provision in the federal tax code gives the chairs of the congressional panels with jurisdiction on tax policy the ability to request tax returns from the Treasury Department.

That means the Democratic chair of the House Ways and Means Committee will have the authority in January to demand Trump’s tax returns. The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda tells us what to expect here.

The goal:

  • Democrats want to know if and how Trump is avoiding taxes, particularly in the wake of a lengthy New York Times story published in early October that said he and his family engaged in “dubious” tax schemes in the 1990s so that the president’s parents could avoid gift and estate taxes.

  • They also want to see how Trump is benefiting from the tax-cut law he signed last year, which to date is his biggest legislative accomplishment. And they want to learn about any conflicts of interest that Trump may have, including any links to foreign governments.

The snag:

  • There are risks to the Democratic approach, and Republicans think their rivals could face backlash over investigations into the president.

The battle: While Democrats and a number of tax experts say that Treasury has little ability under the statute to refuse to provide the Ways and Means Committee with the returns, they also expect the Trump administration to slow-walk or turn down their request. That could lead to a legal fight that eventually makes its way to the Supreme Court.

 

LEADING THE DAY

Waters defends planned probe of Trump finances after GOP backlash: Rep. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersFive challenges facing new consumer bureau chief Democrats must stand up for Israel The Year Ahead: Tough tests loom for Trump trade agenda MORE (D-Calif.) defended plans from House Democrats to investigate President Trump’s personal finances as Republicans warn of steep consequences if they move forward.

Waters is in line to chair the House Financial Services Committee in 2019, giving her oversight of banks and subpoena power to conduct investigations relevant to the panel’s mandate.

She told The Hill in a phone interview Thursday night that a planned probe of the president’s relationship with Deutsche Bank should be considered “ordinary” oversight work for the panel.

“We think it is improper for anybody to be talking about retaliation,” Waters said. I’ve got more from my interview with Waters right here.

The goal: Waters has pledged to ramp up Democratic efforts to probe Trump and his family's relationship with Deutsche Bank, which has been penalized by the Justice Department for laundering money from Russia.

Financial Services panel Democrats spent the past two years requesting documents from the Treasury Department and Deutsche Bank that could reveal Trump’s potential ties to Russian nationals.

“Deutsche Bank is key to understanding the relationship between the president and members of the president’s family and money laundering and all of that,” Waters said. “We hope that we can move forward in a responsible way.


The backlash: Trump and fellow Republicans, have blasted Waters for eyeing the president’s finances.

Trump said Wednesday that he would not work with Democrats on bipartisan goals like infrastructure funding if they subpoenaed his financial records — including his tax returns — and would ask the GOP-held Senate to investigate the opposition party.

Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryOn The Money: Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming | Trump names Mulvaney acting chief of staff | China agrees to 3-month freeze of auto tariffs | Dem to seek Deutsche Bank records of Trump's personal finances Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming The Memo: Allies worry as Trump’s woes mount MORE (R-N.C.), who’s poised to lead Republicans on the Financial Services panel, also warned Waters on Thursday that he’d fight Democratic efforts to use the committee “as the launch pad for endless, partisan investigations.”

 

Reports: Trump mulls replacing Commerce chief Ross by end of year: President Trump is considering replacing Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossTrump to attend World Economic Forum in Davos for second straight year Bolton rolls out Trump’s Africa policy to grim reception, but I’m reserving judgment Replacing unpopular steel tariffs with quotas is even worse for US energy MORE by the end of the year, according to two media reports.

Trump is reportedly seeking to replace Ross with either Small Business Administration (SBA) chief Linda McMahonLinda Marie McMahonTrump to attend World Economic Forum in Davos for second straight year The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE or Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) President Ray Washburne, according to a Friday report from CNBC.

Politico first reported Thursday that Trump was seeking to replace Ross with McMahon, the former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment who’s been friends with Trump for decades. She currently manages the federal agency designed to bolster financing for small businesses.

A SBA spokeswomen did not respond to a request for comment.

Washburne, a prominent Dallas investor and top Republican Party fundraiser, currently leads OPIC, which helps U.S. firms invest in overseas projects meant to bolster U.S. economic and national security.

An OPIC spokesman said “Mr. Washburne remains focused on implementing the BUILD Act and launching the new US Development Finance Corporation," a revamp of the agency enacted in September. I’ve got more on the shuffle here.

 

Why?  While Ross was of Trump’s earliest supporters, the president has reportedly soured on the Commerce chief. Trump has privately mocked Ross’s age, according to several media reports, and claimed he’s lost his edge as a dealmaker.

Ross has also been inundated with ethics complaints regarding official meetings he held with companies in which he invested. The secretary is under fire for meeting with top executives from Chevron, Boeing, and Greenbrier on issues before the Commerce Department while still holding stakes in those firms.

NEXT WEEK’S NEWS, NOW

  • Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles will testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday and the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday. The Fed’s regulatory chief will certainly face plenty of questions about the central bank’s latest Dodd-Frank rollback proposal, which enraged financial sector critics and underwhelmed bank advocates.

 

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Amazon and PayPal are distancing themselves from the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys, which has been involved in violent clashes at political demonstrations and has been labeled a hate group.
  • A federal judge blocked the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline Thursday, saying the Trump administration’s justification for approving it last year was incomplete.

  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro warned Wall Street bankers and hedge-fund managers to back down from their push for Trump to strike a quick trade deal with China’s Xi Jinping, according to Bloomberg.