The chairman of the New York Republican State Committee derided a recent push by Democrats in his state who wanted a closer look into President Donald Trump’s tax returns. It comes after a House Democrat committee chairman made similar demands last week.
In an April 9 interview with Fox & Friends, Chairman Ed Cox said the legislation that Democrats tried to pass was out of their scope.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, (D-Manhattan) on April 8 introduced S-5072, a bill that would change the law to let the state share tax return information with “certain” congressional committees that request it. It is illegal to share someone’s state tax return information under current New York tax law.
“This legislation would make the work of a federal committee a little easier, if confronted with inability to receive the federal tax return, we can turn to New York State,” House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in an April 8 statement.
Cox said if the bill passes, “it’s going to go to the courts.”
“It is outrageous,” he said. “Because everyone has a right to keep their tax returns private under federal law and under state law, and here they are changing the law, legislature’s going to pass it, Cuomo says he’s going to sign it, just for the president of the United States to force him to expose his tax returns, while they’re under audit.”
A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in March found only half of those surveyed believe Congress should force Trump to release his tax returns. Meanwhile, 40 percent said the issue was not very important or shouldn’t be done at all. The remaining participants said they didn’t know or offered no opinion.
Cox said voters in the United States have already made their stance clear.
“Look, there are a lot of agents looking at his tax returns—‘you can take this deduction, you can’t take that deduction’—but the American people during the campaign, he made it clear: ‘I’m not going to release my tax returns’—and guess what? They elected him president of the United States.”
Cox also described the legislation as a “bill of attainder,”—a legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.
“A bill of attainder, it’s an ancient thing where the king doesn’t want a person to go through a trial, he just wants to [execute them]. You have no privileges under law. You are executed. That is abhorrent under America. The Constitution forbids states from doing that.”
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on April 9 that the department’s lawyers had held discussions with the White House about an expected request from House Democrats for Trump’s tax returns.
Mnuchin, at a House Appropriations subcommittee budget hearing, said the “informational” conversations had taken place before House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal’s (D-Mass.) request last week for six years of Trump’s tax returns.
Democrats are pursuing Trump’s returns under a legal authority that aims to prevent interference from the White House on the Treasury’s decision of whether to release the tax returns.
Mnuchin said he personally has had no conversations with anyone in the White House about the request, and was not briefed on the contents of the prior conversations between Treasury and White House lawyers.
“I believe that was purely informational,” he said of the discussions. “We had obviously read in the press that we were expecting this. I personally wasn’t involved in those conversations.”
Mnuchin said the Treasury would “follow the law” regarding Neal’s request for Trump’s tax returns, adding that it was being reviewed by the Treasury’s legal department.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News on April 7 that the recent push was a “political stunt” from Democrats.
“They know that they are not going to get this, they just want the attention on the issue because they don’t want to talk to us about policy,” he said.
“[Trump] could always allow people to see it. That’s not what’s happening here. The Democrats are demanding that the IRS turn over the documents.”
Reuters contributed to this report.