- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic troops said Wednesday they want to force a floor vote on legislation requiring President Trump, future presidents and their nominees to disclose their tax returns.

They’re leveraging a procedural gambit known as a discharge petition, which allows legislation to bypass committee and hit the floor if a majority of the House signs onto the effort.

Democrats are in the minority, however, so they would need more than 20 Republicans to sign the petition even if every Democrat joins the effort led by Rep. Anna Eshoo, Connecticut Democrat.

“I am hopeful that Republicans will see the light — some have,” she said, arguing limited GOP support will grow.

Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said her party is particularly interested in any ties between Mr. Trump’s business empire and Russia, China or other foreign entities. They said those connections could influence his decisions on foreign policy or trade deals.

“It’s the president of the United States. There is a question about a Russia connection — politically, financially, personally,” Mrs. Pelosi said, alluding to an FBI probe into Russian cyber-meddling into the 2016 campaign and alleged collusion with the Trump campaign.

Mr. Trump broke years of precedent by refusing to disclose his tax information during the campaign, saying it wouldn’t be prudent because his complex returns are under audit. He maintained that stance after Inauguration Day, saying the only people who care about his returns are reporters.

Experts say nothing prevents Mr. Trump from releasing his returns, however, so critics say he must be concealing unflattering income streams or business relationships in his portfolio.

“It isn’t as if the tax returns tell the whole story, but they are a key that opens the door to so much information,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Democrats also said they want to know if the president made charitable donations, used tax shelters or owes anyone money.

They said Republicans would have cried foul if President Obama had refused to disclose his returns, and that Mr. Trump lost the right to shroud his financial interests when he stepped into the White House.

“You’re no longer a businessman, pal,” Rep. Bill Pascrell, New Jersey Democrat, said.

Democrats tried to leverage the Ways and Means Committee’s powers to procure Mr. Trump’s tax returns earlier this year, though panel Republicans rebuffed the effort as an invasion of privacy that would set a dangerous precedent.

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