Politics

Schumer Wants Trump Cabinet Picks To Share Tax Returns

| by Robert Fowler

The incoming Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, has urged President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet nominees to submit their tax returns for congressional review.

Democratic lawmakers have increasingly called for financial transparency from the incoming Trump administration, with Trump's Cabinet nominees estimated to be the wealthiest in U.S. history.

On Dec. 28, Sen. Schumer took to social media to call for all of Trump's administration picks to submit their tax returns to the Senate committees that will decide whether or not to confirm them. He noted that Steven Mnuchin, the nominee for Treasury Secretary, and Tom Price, the nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, had already provided the last three years of their returns.

"Senate now has tax returns from Mnuchin/Price, but we're still waiting on Tillerson & rest of Cabinet," Schumer tweeted. "They should submit before hearings."

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The incoming Senate Minority Leader added: "Still waiting for all other Cabinet nominees to do the same. They must."

Senate Democrats have repeatedly called for President-elect Trump's Cabinet appointees to submit at least three years' worth of their most recent tax returns to Congress before their confirmation hearings.

Only the Finance, Budget, and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees legally require administration nominees to submit tax returns, prompting Democratic lawmakers to call for new legislation that would make the requirement apply to all panels.

If all of Trump's appointees are confirmed, historians estimate that his Cabinet would be the richest in U.S. history, clocking in with a whopping cumulative wealth of $11 billion.

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"I guess they have a few poor millionaires on it, but mostly it's billionaires," Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont quipped to CBS News.

Sanders blasted Trump for his Cabinet picks, asserting that a sincere presidential candidate who had run on a populist message would not "appoint a Cabinet of billionaires to be taking on the establishment."

The wealthiest Trump nominee is Betsy DeVos, who Trump tapped for Secretary of Education; DeVos' family worth is estimated to be over $5 billion. Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross is worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

The tension between Democratic and GOP lawmakers over the Trump administration's potential conflicts of interests flared up last week when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, stated that Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson would not be required to submit his tax returns, Talking Points Memo reports.

In a written statement, Corker asserted that financial disclosure would not be necessary because Tillerson "will go through the same ethics and FBI checks as previous Secretary of State nominees."

Democratic lawmakers have pushed back against Corker's assertion, citing Tillerson's numerous international dealings -- especially with Russia -- during his career as ExxonMobil CEO.

"Mr. Tillerson was actively engaged with many foreign governments that could become relevant if confirmed as Secretary of State," wrote Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland in a statement. "The Senate has a responsibility to review all relevant documents during the confirmation process."

The debate in Congress over the incoming administration's financial transparency is underlined by the fact that President-elect Trump was the first nominee in decades to refuse to release his tax returns. This prompted Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon to introduce a bill that would legally require both sitting presidents and presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

Sources: CBS NewsThe Hill, Talking Points Memo / Photo Credit: Senate Democrats/Flickr

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