WASHINGTON — Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee asked the new Democratic chairman to drop the quest to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department.
In a letter to Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal, who is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, on Thursday, Republican Reps. Kevin Brady and Mike Kelly pleaded with the chairman to not pursue Trump's tax returns, citing privacy concerns and what they characterized as an abuse of authority.
"Some of the proposals our Committee is considering this week leave us deeply concerned. We believe all Americans have a fundamental right to the privacy of the personal information found in their tax returns," the letter read. "This isn't about the tax returns of the presidents and vice-presidents but about making sure Congress does not abuse its authority. This is about protecting the private tax returns of every American."
Brady, the House Ways and Means Committee's ranking Republican, and Kelly, the top Republican on the subcommittee on oversight, added that Democrats "appear willing to sacrifice this critical protection for political gain" and that revealing the president's tax returns would set a "dangerous precedent."
"When we start making exceptions for one taxpayer, it begins the process of eroding and threatening the privacy rights of alltaxpayers," they wrote. "This is a risk we cannot and should not take."
The letter goes on to characterize the quest for Trump's tax returns, which is entirely legal, as "weaponizing our nation's tax code by targeting political foes."
The Republicans concluded by suggesting the committee "veer away from this dangerous path and work together to develop common sense improvement to our ethics laws."
The letter comes as the committee is set to hold its first hearing on obtaining tax returns from presidents and vice presidents since the Democrats took back majority control of the House in January.