The tax code offers an obscure way to force the issue. Namely, the House Ways and Means Committee can request the tax documents of the president or anyone else for confidential review. The same is true for the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Lawmakers could then eventually make the records public, if they so choose.
“At such time as we overcome Trump obstacles and secure the returns, there needs to be a careful, objective review of them in private,” Doggett said. “I want some review before public release.”
It’s unclear exactly what would happen if Democrats were to head down that path, though the Trump administration has been gearing up for a legal fight. That’s partly why a House Ways and Means subcommittee brought in tax experts on Thursday to explore the issue further.
The hearing focused on wonky tax policy. But the stakes were clear.
Brady, in his letter, accused Democrats of “gotcha politics” and “lazy legislating.” He said that “if there are valid concerns with financial disclosures, then let’s come together to legislate a thoughtful solution to require additional disclosure.”
Democrats have proposed requiring presidential and vice presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns as part of ethics legislation. But key Republicans have panned that broader effort.
Doggett and other Democrats were also in no mood to be castigated by the GOP. The Austin Democrat said Republicans were the ones who have “weaponized the tax code,” pointing back to their investigation in 2014 of the IRS’ treatment of conservative political groups.
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