House Republicans want to know how the New York Times got Trump's tax returns.
A leading House Republican is demanding an investigation into how the New York Times got Donald Trump's tax returns.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), the top Republican on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, claimed without evidence on Monday that the newspaper illegally obtained Trump's tax information for its blockbuster story published Sunday.
"While many critics question the article’s accuracy, equally troubling is the prospect that a felony crime was committed by releasing the private tax return information of an individual — in this case the President’s," Brady said in a press release. "To ensure every American is protected against the illegal release of their tax returns for political reasons, I am calling for an investigation of the source and to prosecute if the law was broken."
Trump has dismissed the New York Times story as "totally fake news," without citing any evidence.
Times reporters reviewed more than 20 years of Trump's tax filings for the story, and discovered that he paid zero dollars in federal income taxes for 10 of the past 15 years. In 2016 and 2017, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes — less than many American workers pay each year.
Much of Trump's response to the Times story has been to claim it is factually wrong. "Most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate," Trump Organization attorney and spokesperson Alan Garten told the newspaper, without evidence.
"Actually I paid the tax, and you'll see them as soon as my tax returns are done," Trump told reporters at a White House press briefing on Sunday. "It's under audit. They've been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well."
"FAKE NEWS!" Trump added in a tweet late on Sunday night.
Though Trump had promised multiple times to make his tax returns public, he has falsely claimed for years that he cannot do so because of a "routine audit."
But Trump also seemed to confirm the report's findings by suggesting that his deductions were above-board, and baselessly claiming that the paper violated the law.
"The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent. I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits," Trump tweeted on Monday.
The Times made clear in its report that all of the data it obtained "was provided by sources with legal access to it."
While Trump and his team have disputed the accuracy of the Times' reporting, they have provided no evidence — such as his tax records — to counter it.
This is not the first time Brady has run interference for Trump on his personal finances. In February 2017, the Texas Republican blocked Democrats' efforts to examine Trump's tax returns via the House Ways and Means Committee.
"Privacy and civil liberties are still important rights in this country, and the Ways and Means Committee is not going to start to weaken them," Brady said at the time. "My belief is that if Congress begins to use its powers to rummage around in the tax returns of the president, what prevents Congress from doing the same to average Americans?"
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.