Not even 24 hours after Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives in November 2018, Democrats said they would seek President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Now that they’ve actually taken control — and the government shutdown is over — they’re looking to make good on those promises.
The Washington Examiner (Full disclosure: My former employer) reported last week that House Democrats were starting to lay the groundwork for obtaining Trump’s tax returns.
“House Democrats sought to build a case for using congressional power to obtain and disclose President Trump’s tax returns during a Thursday hearing,” the Examiner reported.
“Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has pledged to seek a review of Trump’s tax returns for potential improprieties,” the outlet added. “Thursday's hearing before the committee’s oversight subcommittee was the first step.”
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), who chairs the oversight subcommittee, asked during the meeting if “the public have a need to know that a person seeking or holding the highest office in our country obeys the tax laws?"
Republicans, of course, object to obtaining the president’s tax returns for no reason other than a fishing expedition, as my former colleague Byron York wrote:
What do they hope to find? What is remarkable is that even the most aggressive Democrats don't seem to have a clear idea what they will find in the returns. They're just sure there must be something bad in there.
York goes on to quote several congressional Democrats — including House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi — suggesting the public wants to know what Trump is “hiding” by not releasing his tax returns.
"I think overwhelmingly the public wants to see the president's tax returns," Pelosi said. "And so they want to know the truth, they want to know the facts and he has nothing to hide."
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) thinks Trump’s refusal to release his returns “makes it clear he has something to hide.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) just wants “to see if the President of the United States has a conflict of interest that he brought with him or that he created since he got here.”
Other Democrats, York notes, think Trump’s tax returns will prove Russia collusion.
The Senate Intelligence Committee stated this week they found “no direct evidence of a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia,” according to NBC News sources from both sides of the aisle.
Democrats are also now suggesting Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russia collusion was inadequate, as fears mount that the former FBI director won’t find the president guilty of conspiracy. Should Mueller’s investigation fail to reach the outcome desired by Democrats, the party appears as though it will simply keep investigating Trump until they can find something, anything, they can use to claim he broke the law. Rep. Lewis said as much at last week’s hearing.
“This is not the end,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”
Trump broke a 50-year-old tradition by not releasing his tax returns, so he does deserve criticism, but an endless investigation to find wrongdoing serves no one.