Congressional Democrats are hoping that growing concerns about Russian interference in American politics might get them a peek at President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Trump refused to release his tax returns during the campaign because, he said, he was undergoing an audit. Since the election, his administration has indicated he won’t be releasing the returns, in part because they don’t believe the American people care.
But now three senators and a member of the House of Representatives are taking a new approach, hoping that the year-old effort to compel the president to make his tax returns public will find new traction if it’s framed as a matter of national security.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is at the center of investigating Russian meddling in the campaign and possible ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, said the president’s tax returns needed to be reviewed because they are where “financial questions . . . and national security intersect.”
“We are going to stay at this until we prevail, because we think this is so important,” he said. He also said “Donald Trump’s own son said in a 2008 interview that the Trump organization sees a lot of money pouring in from Russia. . . . So the president is now making decisions about American national security in the midst of ongoing investigations into Trump associates’ ties to Russia.”
Releasing tax returns, Wyden said, “is the lowest ethical bar for a candidate for president” and every candidate has gone along with the tradition for the past 40 years.
Wyden and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., both members of the Senate Finance Committee, are trying to have Trump’s returns reviewed by the committee in executive session. If the committee then determined that the returns raised concerns, they could vote to make the returns public. Such an effort, however, would require some Republican support.
Stabenow said pursuing the tax returns was increasingly urgent as Russian influence in the election was being investigated.
Trump “has significant financial holdings with implications for global financial crimes and international trade relationships,” she said. She noted, for example, that Trump recently obtained a Chinese trademark registration while agreeing to honor the long-standing Chinese insistence that the U.S. recognize its sovereignty over Taiwan.