Two Texas lawmakers are at the forefront of a renewed battle over President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands) wrote a letter Thursday to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, opposing the committee’s hearing on presidential tax returns. Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, meanwhile, has filed six motions in the past two years calling for the release of Trump’s tax returns.
Kevin Diaz, a Washington, D.C.-based reporter for the Houston Chronicle, says that before Trump, presidents since the 1970s have voluntarily made their tax returns available.
“It’s a guard against conflicts of interest,” Diaz says. “It’s transparency, it’s accountability. It’s not a law, but it’s just tradition in American politics.”
Brady, who called the push for Trump to release his taxes “gotcha politics,” has emerged as the point man for the Republican defense of the president’s position. Before Democrats took over the House in January, Brady was chair of the Ways and Means committee.
Though Doggett is not the senior Democrat on Ways and Means, he is among the most experienced members, Diaz says.
“He’s also been one of the most outspoken in pushing for Trump’s tax returns to be public,” Diaz says.
In his letter, Brady said forcing the president to release his tax returns would threaten the privacy of other Americans. Diaz says this is a fairly recent tactic among Republican defenders of the president.
Diaz says the House, under Democratic control, could proceed on one of two tracks: they could pass a bill requiring future presidents to release their taxes, or they could demand Trump’s documents now.
“They’re claiming that the chairmen of the Senate Finance, and House Ways and Means committees already have the power to demand these tax returns from the Treasury Department and the IRS,” Diaz says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.