Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said that members of congress from her party will seek to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns when they take control of the US House of Representatives in January - a move the White House is likely to strongly resist.
The House Ways and Means Committee will “take the first steps” toward obtaining the documents, said Pelosi, who has the backing of her members to become speaker of the House next month. As it is likely to be a challenging process, it will be up to the committee to figure out how to proceed, she said.
“There is popular demand for the Congress to request the president’s tax returns,” she told reporters in the Capitol.
“I’m sure the White House will resist and so the question is where do we go from there,” she said.
Trump defied decades of tradition when he refused to release his tax records as a candidate and after his victory in the 2016 US presidential election. No law or rule compels a president or candidate to disclose their returns, but nearly every nominee and president has done so in recent decades.
As they prepare to take over majority control of the House, Democratic leaders have tried to walk a fine line in articulating their goals. They have said they plan to pursue policies popular with their voter base, but have also said they will not shy away from examining Trump, his personal business dealings and his presidency.
Representative Bill Pascrell praised the plan to seek Trump’s records.
“I am confident we will have the will and the tools to finally expose Trump’s financial history to sunlight,” he said.
The records would provide congressional investigators from various House committees with information crucial to efforts to determine if Trump’s business generates conflicts of interest.
Democrats have alleged Trump is violating the US Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from receiving gifts of value from foreign governments, citing Trump’s continued ownership of hotels that foreign government delegations patronize.
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Democratic leaders on the House Intelligence Committee have said Trump’s personal financial information would help illuminate whether foreign leaders might have leverage over the president.
Pelosi said committees will also take up issues like healthcare and trade.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.