As Business Conflicts Persist, A New Plan Emerges To Get Trump Taxes
"I'm a firm believer in the maxim where there's smoke, there's fire. The smoke is billowing out of the White House right now"
Democrats have a new plan to get President Donald Trump's tax returns released: make Steve Mnuchin do it.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) on Friday introduced a resolution of inquiry directing the Treasury secretary to provide the U.S. House with copies of Trump's tax returns, as well as any information the Treasury Department has on the president's foreign debts and investments, and use of tax-avoidance schemes.
"The smoldering pile of potential conflicts around President Trump is starting to flare up. Whether it's branding deals with foreign governments or local D.C. businesses claiming the president's hotel holds an unfair advantage, we cannot ignore the signs," Pascrell said. "I'm a firm believer in the maxim where there's smoke, there's fire. The smoke is billowing out of the White House right now. We need to act and we have the power to act. I'm not sure what we're waiting for."
Trump has refused to release his tax returns, making him the first presidential candidate in decades not to disclose those financial records, despite widespread public demand. He has also spurned calls to divest his assets from his family's corporate empire while in office—even as critics say his private investments could violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Resolutions of inquiry can be brought to the House floor if they are not considered by committee within 14 legislative days.
The House Ways and Means Committee has jurisdiction over Pascrell's measure, as the panel's chairs have the authority to request tax returns from the Treasury and review them in a closed session. Under its current chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the committee is unlikely to approve of Pascrell's resolution—but many say even forcing the vote is progress, as it keeps Republicans from sweeping the issue under the rug.
"Conflicts? Emoluments? Russia? @HouseGOP can't duck my #ResolutionofInquiry for @realDonaldTrump tax returns," Pascrell tweeted.
Still, his latest effort is another indication that House Democrats are not giving up trying to force a release of Trump's tax returns. A broader effort by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to get the U.S. Department of Justice to hand over records on the president's potential business conflicts, ethical violations, and ties to Russia was killed in committee this month.
"The presidential campaign is over and the fear that a political opponent will try to use tax returns for electoral benefit is passed," Pascrell wrote in his resolution. "President Trump is now governing while also owning a business with international investments. The Constitution faces unprecedented threats due to this arrangement. I believe the powerful Ways and Means Committee has the responsibility to use that power to ensure proper oversight of the executive branch by requesting a review of President Trump's tax returns."
"I am not going away," he tweeted Friday.