Republicans slam release of Trump tax returns

Kevin Brady
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, steward of the GOP tax bill, speaks before the final version of the legislation is signed. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans slam release of Trump tax returns

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House Republicans railed against the release of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, alleging that Democrats’ push to make them public was politically motivated.

Democrats on the House Committee on Ways and Means released six years of Trump’s records after a yearslong legal battle to obtain the information, with Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) ultimately succeeding in requesting the documents. Proponents of their release argued it is a necessary step for transparency, asserting they believe voters deserve to know leaders’ financial interests.

TRUMP TAX RETURNS RELEASED TO PUBLIC AFTER MULTIYEAR BATTLE BY DEMOCRATS

But Republicans argued that the move served “no legitimate legislative purpose,” making the case that Trump was under audit by the IRS and that the Joint Committee on Taxation did not receive the proper authority to investigate the returns.

“With the publicly released transcript of Democrats’ secret executive session, Americans now have confirmation that there was never a legislative purpose behind the public release of these confidential records and that the IRS was conducting audits prior to Democrats’ request. Despite these facts, Democrats have charged forward with an unprecedented decision to unleash a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president, overturning decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since Watergate,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the powerful tax-writing panel, said in a statement.

“Going forward, all future Chairs of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of private citizens, political enemies, business and labor leaders or even the Supreme Court justices themselves,” he said. “This is a regrettable stain on the Ways and Means Committee and Congress, and will make American politics even more divisive.”

Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), who is vying for the Ways and Means gavel, echoed Brady’s sentiments, adding that he believes the release set a poor precedent.

“It is truly shameful that Ways and Means Democrats used literally the last day of this Congress to release a taxpayer funded hit job on a political opponent. Their obsession over President Trump has driven them and this Committee to a new low,” he said.

“Democrats will only have themselves to blame come January as they have now given the incoming Republican Majority the clear authority to use all tools available to investigate whether President Biden and his family have enriched themselves off the Washington Democrats’ agenda.”

Democrats defended their authority, asserting that Trump’s decision not to release his tax returns was unprecedented and that it is Congress’ job to provide a check on the other branches of government.

“A president is no ordinary taxpayer. They hold power and influence unlike any other American. And with great power comes even greater responsibility,” Neal said in a statement last week.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) asserted they went through the proper legal channels to obtain the information, adding he believes the GOP’s argument that it does not serve a legislative purpose is unfounded.

“The materials released today were lawfully obtained by the Ways and Means Committee using its clear legal authority. Chairman Neal requested this tax information to inform our committee’s work on IRS tax enforcement, including the presidential audit program,” he said in a statement. “The findings, already detailed in the committee’s report, show that this program was broken — justifying our legislative purpose, and leading to House passage of legislation to fix the problem on December 22nd.”

Beyer added that by not releasing his tax returns during Trump’s tenure in the White House, it raised questions about whether there were conflicts of interest.

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“Trump acted as though he had something to hide, a pattern consistent with the recent conviction of his family business for criminal tax fraud. As the public will now be able to see, Trump used questionable or poorly substantiated deductions and a number of other tax avoidance schemes as justification to pay little or no federal income tax in several of the years examined,” he said.

“These findings underscore the fact that our tax laws are often inequitable, and that enforcement of them is often unjust. Trump was able to bypass even the mandatory IRS presidential audit program for years, but many other wealthy and powerful people evade billions in tax dues every year through more quotidian tax avoidance.”

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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