House Democrats escalate effort to obtain Trump tax returns

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By David Morgan

<span class="articleLocation”>Congressional Democrats on Tuesday tried but
failed to pressure Republicans into seeking President Donald
Trump’s tax returns, saying the scandal over Michael Flynn made
it imperative to find out whether the president has business
ties to Russia.

A day after the Republican chairman of the House of
Representatives Ways and Means Committee dismissed the idea
, the panel’s Democrats proposed an amendment
demanding that the committee ask the Treasury Department for
copies of Trump’s returns by March 1.

“Unless this amendment is adopted, we will never see the
president’s tax returns while he’s in office,” Representative
Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat, told committee Chairman Kevin
Brady at a public hearing.

“Before you stonewall this, I urge you to think twice,”
Levin added. “You’ll only keep the issue… alive.

Brady strongly rejected the request as an abuse of the
committee’s authority.

Minutes later, committee rejected the amendment along party
lines in a 23-15 vote.

The vote represents only the latest skirmish between
Republicans and Democrats in Congress over whether lawmakers
should review Trump’s tax returns, which critics say would help
determine whether the president’s sprawling business empire
poses any conflicts of interest. House Democratic aides say the
political battle will continue.

The resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn
on Monday intensified Democratic interest in the documents, with
one lawmaker warning about the potential danger of blackmail.

Representative Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, issued
the first request for Trump’s returns in a Feb. 1 letter that
Brady rejected on Monday.

Experts say federal law authorizes the House Ways and Means
Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee
on Taxation to examine individual tax returns.

The two other panels are headed by Senator Orrin Hatch, a
Utah Republican who dismissed the idea of seeking Trump’s
returns last week.

House Republicans contend that the authority to examine tax
returns was meant to ensure the proper administration of the tax

Democrats contend that Trump’s business empire involves
state-owned enterprises in China and the United Arab Emirates,
as well as other interests in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey,
Taiwan and the Philippines.

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