Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) and ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) talk during a business meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee on Capitol Hill on December 20, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The House Ways and Means Committee began meeting Tuesday to consider potentially publicly releasing years’ worth of federal income tax returns filed by former President Donald Trump.
The Democratic-controlled committee last month received those tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service after a multi-year court battle to obtain them over the objections from Trump.
The committee immediately closed the meeting to the public to discuss the returns. The panel is expected to resume a public session later Tuesday after it meets in executive session.
A police escort delivered documents that were presumed to be Trump’s tax returns shortly before the scheduled 3 p.m. hearing.
Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on Ways and Means, warned against the potential release of the returns.
“Let me be clear, our concern is not whether the president should have made his tax returns public as has been tradition, nor about the accuracy of his tax returns,” Brady told reporters. “That is for the IRS and the taxpayer to determine.”
“Our concern is that if taken, this committee action will set a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since the Watergate reforms,” Brady said.
Trump broke decades of political precedent as a Republican candidate for the White House and then as president by refusing to release his tax returns to the public.
Documents arrive as the House Ways & Means Committee holds a hearing regarding tax returns from former President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022.
Andrew Harnik | AP
During his administration, the Treasury Department refused to release his returns to Ways and Means when they were requested by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass. The department claimed there was no legitimate legislative basis for the request.
The committee has said it wants the returns as part of a review of how the IRS audits the tax returns of sitting presidents annually.
Treasury dropped its opposition to releasing the returns after President Joe Biden, a Democrat, took office.
Trump sued to block their release, but lost that effort in lower federal courts, and, ultimately, at the Supreme Court last month.
Tuesday’s hearing by the Ways and Means Committee comes less than a month before Republicans are set to take majority control of the House of Representatives. GOP lawmakers are expected to quash any further inquiry by the committee into Trump’s tax returns.
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