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President Donald Trump speaks at a meeting with business leaders on tax reform at the White House in Washington, D.C on October 31, 2017. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

To 'Circumvent' White House Obstruction, New York Passes Bill to Give Congress Access to Trump Tax Returns

"New York lawmakers are providing a new avenue for the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain these crucial financial documents."

Jake Johnson

As the White House continues to defy congressional Democrats' requests for President Donald Trump's federal tax returns, the New York state Assembly on Wednesday passed legislation that would make six years of Trump's state tax records available to the U.S. Congress.

The New York state Senate passed the legislation, titled the TRUST Act, earlier this month. The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk.

"We implore Governor Cuomo to immediately sign this bill into law."
—Stand Up America

In a statement, the advocacy group Stand Up America urged Cuomo to sign the TRUST Act as soon as possible.

"Donald Trump and his administration are doing everything they can to conceal the truth about his finances and massive conflicts of interest by illegally blocking Congress from obtaining his tax returns," said Stand Up America.

"In order to circumvent this stonewalling, New York lawmakers are providing a new avenue for the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain these crucial financial documents," the group said. "We implore Governor Cuomo to immediately sign this bill into law."

According to the New York Times, the TRUST Act would allow the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release Trump's tax 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.'"

Trump's tax returns in New York, the president's home state and the site of his business heaquarters, "would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns," the Times reported.

The legislation passed New York's Assembly as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin—who last week refused to comply with a congressional subpoena for Trump's tax returns—testified on Capitol Hill.

As Common Dreams reported late Tuesday, a leaked IRS memo appeared to completely undermine Mnuchin's justifications for withholding the president's tax documents.

New York state Assemblyman David Buchwald, the sponsor of the tax return bill, said during a floor speech Wednesday that the legislation is designed to overcome White House obstruction.

"Transparency is essential," said Buchwald, "especially when it comes to the conflicts or potential conflicts of those who craft public policy."

Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, applauded New York state lawmakers for doing "the right thing by strengthening the oversight responsibilities of Congress and standing up for the public’s right to know."

"The TRUST Act is aimed at a president who is not open or transparent with voters, who continues to flout the law, and broke 40 years of precedent by becoming the only president to keep his tax information secret," Clemente said in a statement. "Congress and the public deserve to know if their elected officials, including the president, have financial conflicts that that in any way affects their decisions and policies."


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