Legislation

Top Democrat sparks outrage by turning down the easiest route to get Trump’s taxes

The New York legislature passed a bill last month that would make President Donald Trump’s state tax returns available to the House Ways and Means Committee upon request, but the committee’s Democratic chairman Richard Neal has reportedly made clear that he has no plans to ask for the documents.

According to Bloomberg, Neal fears that attempting to obtain the president’s state tax returns “would bolster Trump administration arguments that Congress is on a political fishing expedition.”

“Richard Neal would be the only Democrat allowed by the new law to ask for the documents,” Bloomberg reported, “but so far he has said he won’t do it.”

Neal’s refusal to pursue Trump’s New York returns—which could contain similar information to the president’s federal tax returns—sparked anger from progressive activists and lawmakers, who argued the Ways and Means chairman should be using all of the power at his disposal to investigate Trump’s potential financial conflicts.

“The Trump administration will stop at nothing to prevent the American people from seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns,” advocacy group Stand Up America told Common Dreams. “With Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin illegally blocking their release, Chairman Neal has no choice but to use every tool available to ensure that House investigators are able to uncover the truth about Trump’s conflicts of interests—including obtaining his state tax returns.”

The TRUST Act is currently awaiting action from New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign the bill.

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If enacted, the New York Times reported, the legislation would “require the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release returns to the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, and the Joint Committee on Taxation for any ‘specified and legitimate legislative purpose.‘”

Several Democratic members of Congress told Bloomberg that Neal should not hesitate to ask for Trump’s state tax returns as soon as possible, even though the president could sue in an attempt to block their release.

“Yes, absolutely, we need to ask,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “We need to know. There is an emoluments clause and a Constitution for a reason.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, agreed, saying: “Whatever it takes to get it—I’m for it. I believe that the president of the United States should follow the tradition of other presidents and reveal his tax returns.”

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