By Terry Collins
May 22, 2019

The pressure is mounting for a long-awaited look at President Donald Trump’s financial records and on Wednesday, lawmakers in New York passed legislation potentially allowing the president’s state tax returns to be released to Congress.

New York’s Democratic-majority assembly approved the nine-page legislation approved earlier this month by the state Senate. The bill will be sent to longtime Trump rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to approve the measure.

While the legislation doesn’t specifically mention Trump, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance commissioner could allow three congressional committees—the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation—access to New York state tax returns filed by elected and other top officials. The legislation would also apply to personal income tax returns and business taxes paid in the Empire State.

“Transparency is essential, especially when it comes to the conflicts or potential conflicts of those who craft public policy,” Democratic Assemblyman David Buchwald, the bill’s sponsor, said during Wednesday’s floor vote.

The latest move comes as lawmakers in the Nation’s Capital continue fighting over the release of Trump’s federal tax returns. The president is refusing to give them to the majority Democratic House Ways and Means Committee, as Trump has yet to exercise his executive privilege. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has repeatedly argued he won’t cooperate with a congressional subpoena requesting at least six years of Trump’s tax returns because the request “lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.”

“Secrecy in government breeds corruption,” New York Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, a Democrat, told his colleagues. He said Trump has “intentionally and publicly thwarted the legitimate and necessary oversight of Congress.”

The bill’s passing in New York also comes after The Washington Post reported Wednesday on a leaked 10-page Internal Revenue Service memo written last year, saying the agency must turn over Trump’s tax returns to Congress unless he prevents it. Also on Wednesday, a federal judge in New York refused to block congressional subpoenas seeking financial records from two banks, Deutsche Bank and Capital One, that did business with Trump.

Meanwhile, politicians, including Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, chair of the House’s Ways and Means Committee, are threatening to take the Trump administration to court to get access to the president’s returns.

The New York bills could provide an opening and give a Democrat-led U.S. House access to Trump’s state tax returns that could resemble his federal returns, as New York is where many of his business enterprises are located. While Congress may get to see the president’s returns, the public likely will not, since federal law protects any confidential information in those documents.

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