December 20

By Kaia Hubbard

A group of Republican lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee warned against setting a “terrible” precedent by making public former President Donald Trump’s tax returns ahead of a meeting over the issue on Tuesday.

“Our concern is not whether the president should have made his tax returns public, as is traditional, nor about the accuracy of his tax returns,” Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas said. “Our concern is that if taken, this committee action will set a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former precedent and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since the Watergate reforms.”

The committee is meeting behind closed doors on Tuesday to consider whether to make Trump’s tax returns public, after years-long legal proceedings to attain the documents ended in its favor in a major blow to Trump last month, who has for years been fighting the release of his personal financial information.

Lawmakers first brought the case against the Treasury Department in 2019, after seeking the tax documents under an IRS provision that allows the committee to obtain tax information for legitimate legislative purposes. They are expected to vote on Tuesday. But it remains unclear when the documents would be made available to the public should the panel vote in favor of the release.

The Supreme Court marked the end of the legal battle outlasting Trump’s time in office when the justices late last month denied a request from the former president to block the release of his tax returns to the committee without explanation or noted dissents.

Trump’s lawyers had asked Chief Justice John Roberts in October to press pause on the issue until they could formally appeal a lower-court decision, perhaps in an attempt to push the years-long dispute into a new – and more Trump-aligned – Congress.

“If allowed to stand, it will undermine the separation of powers and render the office of the Presidency vulnerable to invasive information demands from political opponents in the legislative branch,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the October filing to Roberts.

Brady seemed to share that sentiment on Tuesday, saying the move would mark “unprecedented action that may jeopardize the right of every American to be protected from political targeting by Congress.”

“We urge Democrats to turn back while they still can,” he said. “If they make private information public today, it will be a regrettable stain on this committee and on Congress and will make American politics even more divisive and disheartening.”