GOP attacks Democrats investigation into Trump tax returns on eve of release
“We were a bit surprised when the documents didn’t contain the audit documents,” a GOP aide said of the documents that were to be sent to the House on Friday and released. « So you only have the majority’s interpretation of them. They selected limited pieces of audit documentation; they didn’t provide a lot of source documentation that would allow you to assess for yourself whether their interpretations are correct.
GOP aides said they expect the documents to include six years of individual statements filed jointly by Trump and his wife, Melania, in addition to forms from several business entities that the president of Ways and Means Richard Neal (D-Mass.) focused on careful scrutiny. Aides are also awaiting a report from the Democratic majority; another shorter process report from the Democrats; and Republican dissenting opinions.
The documents will also include a transcript of the closed meeting that took place last week in which the Ways and Means Committee deliberated whether to go public with Trump’s returns — a process that one GOP aide called a « total mess. »
A Democratic spokesperson said Republicans reviewed all of the Ways and Means report filings in just nine hours. GOP tax writers were given access to the same files as Democrats, but never requested that additional information, such as audit documents, be included in Friday’s statement.
“The Committee’s investigation revealed the truth and the facts are simple. The IRS did not audit the former president as part of the mandatory audit program and only started after Chairman Neal got involved,” a spokesperson for the Democratic committee said.
Neal won the returns after a long legal battle that culminated in a Supreme Court ruling in November that ended Trump’s efforts to protect them. Trump had challenged Neal’s ability to compel the returns under a little-used law that allows the heads of congressional tax drafting committees to review anyone’s private tax information.
Republicans have long called the Democrats’ effort a deception that threatens to trigger a tit-for-tat of majorities in Congress releasing tax information from political enemies.
Democrats counter that their investigation is broader than Trump and really concerns the accountability of the most powerful person in the land. The IRS’ presidential audit program is broken, Democrats say, and Trump’s taxes contain several red flags involving questionable business losses, among other things.
GOP aides told reporters that the Democrats’ initial report did not reflect an understanding of how audits of people with complex taxes work. They also noted that Trump had agreed to extend the three-year legal limit for auditing filed statements.
« No real surprises for those who know how these systems and processes work, » a GOP aide said of the audits. « I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary here. »