Pelosi: House Democrats to Seek Trump Tax Returns

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that congressional Democrats will begin to seek President Donald Trump’s tax returns — a move likely to be resisted by the White House — after they take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January.

The House Ways and Means Committee will “take the first steps” toward obtaining the documents, though that will likely be a challenging process, said Pelosi, who has the backing of her members to become speaker of the House next month.

“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.

President Trump defied decades of tradition when he refused to release his tax records as a candidate and after his stunning victory in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. No law or rule compels a president or candidate to disclose his 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 how they will move forward. They have said they plan to pursue policy issues popular with their voter base, but have also said they will not shy from examining President Trump, his personal business dealings and his presidency.

President Trump’s tax records would provide congressional investigators from various House committees with a wealth of information crucial to helping determine if President Trump’s sprawling business operations present conflicts of interest.

Democrats have alleged President Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from receiving gifts of value from foreign governments. They cite President Trump’s continued ownership of hotels that delegations from foreign governments sometimes patronize.

Democratic leaders on the House Intelligence Committee have said President Trump’s personal financial information would help illuminate whether foreign leaders had leverage over the president through involvement in his projects abroad.

Bemoaning Washington’s preoccupation with an ongoing probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between Moscow and President Trump’s campaign, Pelosi said the Ways and Means Committee will also take up other issues, such as health care and trade.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about Pelosi’s remarks.