Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives announced late Thursday that they will begin to hold hearings next week that focus on presidential and vice-presidential tax returns.
The move by the House Ways and Means Committee comes as a chunk of red meat for the party’s anti-Trump activist base who have long wanted access to Trump’s tax returns–largely based on speculation that such information might reveal holes in the 45th president’s finances or evidence an otherwise unacknowledged source of foreign income.
Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.) is the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee. In a brief press released, Lewis announced the inaugural hearing will occur on Thursday, Feb. 7. The Democratic Party-led panel will be called “Legislative Proposals and Tax Law Related to Presidential and Vice-Presidential Tax Returns.”
As noted, Democratic Party agitators and several figures in media have long attempted to make political hay out of the tax returns controversy. Trump has resisted releasing his tax returns because he says he’s currently subject to an audit by the Internal Revenue Service–but Democrats and their media allies haven’t much cared for that excuse.
House Ways and Means Chair Representative Richard Neal (D-Mass.) has sought to strike a balance between appeasing party activists and what he views as proper use of his committee’s oversight authority.
“Well, actually [the] legal case is being prepared and [we are] doing it quite judiciously,” Neal told CNN on Tuesday. “[Choosing] our words methodically. This is the beginning of a court case. I think the idea here is to avoid the emotion of the moment and make sure that the product stands up under critical analysis. And it will.”
The 116th Congress has been in session for less than a month and other Hill Democrats seem pleased with Neal’s pace on the issue.
“I know that Chairman Neal is focused on this, but he wants to ensure whatever he does is done in a way that will be completely defensible and doesn’t create more of a circus atmosphere,” Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) also told CNN. “We are in an unprecedented moment. We have a President who refused to follow precedent and custom and release his tax returns and there are a lot of questions about that.”
“We are a little bit behind obviously” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) citing the partial government shutdown. “I am no less convinced that that the chairman is committed to one of his top priorities and the committee’s top priority to inquire about the President’s taxes.”
[image via NICHOLAS KAMM_AFP_Getty Images]