The House Ways and Means Committee is meeting now to discuss former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and weigh whether to release the information to the public, the end to a years-long effort from Democrats to learn more about Trump’s financial background.
The highly anticipated meeting is years in the making but comes as Democrats have just days to act on whether to release the former president’s tax returns. While there is historic precedent for Ways and Means to release confidential tax information, a decision to put it out to the public would come with intense political fallout as Trump has already declared he is running for president in 2024.
The committee has had access to Trump’s taxes for weeks after winning a lengthy legal battle that began in the spring of 2019. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal requested the first six years of Trump’s taxes as well as tax returns for eight of his businesses back in April of 2019.
Neal and his ranking member Kevin Brady have had access to the information, and rank-and-file members on the committee will have begun to have access and review at least some of Trump’s tax information, according to a source familiar.
It’s not clear if members would have access to all of the information.
Republicans on the committee are preparing to push back hard if Democrats vote to release any of Trump’s tax information, committee sources tell CNN. The argument Republicans will wage, however, won’t center on defending Trump explicitly but rather what the release means for politicians and ordinary people in the future.
Democrats on the committee would rely on section 6103 of the tax code to lawfully release information about Trump’s taxes, but Republicans are prepared to argue that Democrats are abusing the provision, attacking a political enemy and potentially unleashing a system where even individuals could have their personal information exposed if they become targets of the committee.
What comes next: The committee will meet Tuesday afternoon and is expected to quickly vote to go into a closed-door session. Once that meeting is underway, members and staff in the room will be able to freely discuss the information contained in Trump’s tax returns and begin their debate about what to do next. It is possible that lawmakers could make a decision Tuesday afternoon and then swiftly move to release information. It’s still not clear, however, what they will vote to do, but the vote will take place publicly.
The committee will vote on what steps to take, but Democrats control the committee and therefore will be able to decide what to do with Trump’s tax information without any GOP support.