Congressional Republicans on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Democrats to use a little-known law to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the IRS.
Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee framed the issue as a matter of national security, questioning whether Trump has any investments in Russia.
The move came a day after Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over conversations he had with Russian officials before Trump took office.
The Ways and Means Committee has legal authority to obtain confidential tax records. The committee could then vote to make them public. But Republicans ignored the law and blocked the Democrats’ efforts on a straight party-line vote, 23-15, according to the Denver Post.
Trump has said he has no investments in Russia, and Democrats acknowledged that have no evidence otherwise. That’s why they want Trump’s returns, said Rep. Joseph Crowley, R-N.Y.
“People are concerned about Michael Flynn putting himself in a position to be blackmailed. What position is the president in?” asked Crowley. “Our national security is at risk.”
Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said the panel should only use its power to ensure that tax laws are being administered properly, “not to investigate the president.”
“As chairman of this committee I will not allow Washington to return to the bad old days when government officials used their powers to intimidate, harass and destroy their political enemies,” Brady said, according to the report.
Shunning decades of tradition, Trump has steadfastly refused to release his tax returns or to divest from his business. Instead, Trump said he has turned operation of his business over to his sons, while still retaining his stake.
Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has said people don’t care about the president’s taxes.
Trump’s tax returns would reveal a trove of information about his business dealings and his sources of income. They wouldn’t show his overall net worth. But they would show his annual income and where it came from.
“No one on this committee can say for sure that Trump doesn’t have investments in Russia,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J. “We don’t know.”
Pascrell promised to raise the issue “over and over and over again.”
“I’m good at that,” he added.