Two House Republicans have signed a letter penned by Democratic lawmakers urging committee chairmen in both the House and Senate to request that the Internal Revenue Service disclose President Donald Trump's tax returns. Trump bucked decades of tradition by not releasing his tax returns on the campaign trail.
On Mar. 3, Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey submitted a letter to House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, and the Senate Finance Committee chairman, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. The letter called on them to compel the IRS to provide Congress with copies of Trump's tax returns from the last ten years.
The letter was signed by over 160 House Democrats as well as Republican Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and Mark Sanford of South Carolina.
Sanford has previously called for Trump to disclose his personal finances to the public. In August 2016, the GOP lawmaker penned an editorial urging him to honor the historical precedent of major party candidates disclosing their tax returns.
"The presidency is the most powerful political position on earth, and the idea of enabling the voter the chance to see how a candidate has handled his or her finances is a central part of making sure the right person gets the job," Sanford wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times.
Pascrell's letter asserted that both Brady and Hatch have the ability to uncover whether or not Trump has potential conflicts of interest.
"We believe the powerful and respected Committees on Finance and Ways and Means have the responsibility to ensure oversight of the executive branch by requesting a review of President Trump's tax returns and moving toward a formal release of those documents to the public," the letter states, according to The Hill.
Both Brady and Hatch have rejected previous requests to procure copies of the president's financial information. Pascrell's letter asserted that it is their responsibility to ensure that Trump will not make policies to benefit himself and that he is not in violation of the Emoluments Clause, according to the Washington Examiner.
"Disclosure would serve the public interest of clarifying President Trump's conflicts of interest in office, the potential for him to personally benefit from tax reform, and ensure that he is not receiving any preferential treatment from the IRS," Pascrell wrote. His letter added that any violations of the emoluments clause cannot "be verified until and unless we have disclosure from President Trump."
Trump was the first major party candidate to decline releasing their tax returns since former President Gerald Ford in 1976, according to PolitiFact.
The president has stated that he cannot release his financial documents because they are under an ongoing audit. The IRS has previously stated that an audit would not preclude the president from disclosing his returns to the public.
On Mar. 1, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters that he wanted a law that would require future presidential candidates to release their tax returns to be qualified for office, Politico reports.
"I think that... any candidate running in 2020 needs to release their tax returns," Graham said. "You just make it a law."