New York’s Senate has approved legislation that would allow congressional investigators to get access to President Trump’s state tax returns, giving Democrats a potential end-run around the administration’s refusal to disclose his federal returns.
The bill that passed today would authorize state officials to release returns filed by seven different types of state and federal officeholders if requested by congressional committees.
It would apply to returns filed by the U.S. president and vice president, U.S. senators, or the state’s governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general or comptroller.
The action in Albany comes amid a standoff in Congress over documents, including Trump’s tax returns.
He is the first presidential candidate in decades not to release them, although there is no law requiring candidates to do so.
The Internal Revenue Code states that the Treasury secretary ‘shall’ turn over any return requested by key committee chairmen.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has declined to disclose Trump’s federal returns to the House, saying the request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts had sought six years of returns, along with return information for Trump business entities.
The pressure from New York comes after a New York Times report that over the span of nearly a decade Trump lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.
A collection of brief transcriptions from Trump’s Internal Revenue Service tax returns, dating from 1985 to 1994, revealed that the future president lost $1.17 billion in 10 years.
New York Attorney General Letitia James had sought the legal tweak.
Supporters said it is necessary to ensure that state and local investigations into Trump and his associates aren’t impacted if Trump uses his power to pardon.
The state Assembly has not yet scheduled a vote on the bill.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who sponsored the bill, said in April that the bill was a response to the administration’s “stonewalling” of congressional requests to provide Trump’s federal tax
“Here you have a president who is stonewalling the U.S. Congress, a co-equal branch of government undertaking its important oversight responsibilities,” Hoylman said. “Lo and behold, we have Donald Trump’s tax returns here in the state of New York and we can provide them to Congress if the IRS, if the Treasury Department won’t.”
The Senate also passed a bill which will allow state prosecutors to bring charges against individuals who receive presidential pardons, but only when the president has a conflict of interest in the case, such as pardoning relatives or former employees.
Currently, state prosecutors cannot bring charges based on the same facts used to convict individuals of federal crimes for which they received pardons, creating a so-called “double-jeopardy loophole.
This bill could eventually apply to Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a former New York resident who is serving time in prison on federal charges.
Trump has said that he believed Manafort was treated poorly by prosecutors, and has hinted at issuing a pardon for his former campaign chairman.