In a first-of-its-kind decision, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday voted in favor of releasing several years’ worth of tax returns of former President Donald Trump.
The committee's vote was the end goal of Chairman Richard Neal’s (D-MA) extensive court battle, which began in 2019, seeking to examine Trump’s tax returns. Within the last month, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Trump's request to halt an appeals court's order requiring him to submit his tax returns and financial records to the committee, ABC News reported.
The members of the House Ways and Means Committee met in closed-door sessions on Tuesday for more than three hours before finally voting along party lines, 24 to 16, to publish Trump's tax returns.
The committee is believed to have voted to also publish the transcript of the closed-door sessions as needed. It has not clarified the manner and timeframe in which Trump's tax returns will be released but did indicate that it will take two days to redact sensitive information prior to the returns being published.
Trump spokesman Steven Cheung blasted the committee's decision and accused Democrats of “playing a political game.”
Cheung said, “This unprecedented leak by lameduck Democrats is proof they are playing a political game they are losing. If they are so hell-bent on releasing President Trump’s tax returns—which show he built a very successful business and created numerous lucrative assets throughout his career—they should release the tax returns of Nancy Pelosi and her weirdo husband Paul to see how much dirty money they have made from selling out America and jeopardizing our national security. Alongside their insider trading and shady stock deals, Congress needs to legitimately investigate their self-enriching financial scams. If this injustice can happen to President Trump, it can happen to all Americans without cause.”
“This is not about being punitive. This is not about being malicious,” Chairman Neal claimed after the vote.
But the most powerful Republican on the committee, Kevin Brady (R-TX), was concerned about the negative consequences of the committee's vote and stated that the committee unleashed the use of a “dangerous new political weapon” that “jeopardizes the privacy of every American.”
“Ways and Means Democrats are unleashing a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond President Trump and jeopardizes the privacy of every American,” Brady declared in a statement. Brady added, “Going forward, partisans in Congress have nearly unlimited power to target political enemies by obtaining and making public their private tax returns to embarrass and destroy them. This is not limited to public officials, but can target private citizens, business and labor leaders, and Supreme Court justices.
“The precedent that we set today will have severe consequences for taxpayers in democracy,” Brady stated just prior to the Ways and Means Committee members gathering to discuss and vote on the issue.
The committee's decision to release Donald Trump's tax returns comes a couple of weeks before the GOP will assume control of the committee once they take the House majority at the start of the next Congress, which will begin on January 3.
In fact, U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden, who backed the committee's authority to examine Trump's tax returns, warned against the public release of the tax returns.
“Public disclosure of another's tax returns is a grave offense, and prior committee chairmen have wisely resisted using” the law “to publicize individuals' returns,” McFadden stated in December when he rejected Trump's lawsuit to stop the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from turning over his tax documents to the House committee.