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New York State has a plan to make sure Congress sees Trump’s tax returns

The move follows a request by the House Ways & Means Committee last week for six years worth of Trump’s tax returns.

by Greg Walters
Apr 8 2019, 6:31pm

President Trump returned to a favorite refrain on Monday: attacking Democrats who will “never be satisfied, no matter what they get, how much they get, or how many pages they get.”

He’ll probably have the same gripe about his home state of New York, which just took its first step toward making sure he can’t permanently hide his tax returns.

A state senator introduced draft legislation on Monday that would allow New York tax officials to hand over President Trump’s state returns to Congress, in the event that the House fails to procure Trump’s filings from the IRS. The move follows a request by the House Ways & Means Committee last week for six years worth of Trump’s tax returns — a bid that the Trump White House vowed to fight with every legal weapon it’s got.

The New York law offers a backup plan in case Trump’s legal defense against Congress succeeds.

“This new bill will permit New York State to comply with requests from congressional investigative committees,” the bill’s sponsor, New York state senator Brad Hoylman, said in an emailed statement Monday. The law would “help ensure Congress can’t be blocked.”

New York law currently forbids the disclosure of state tax returns unless ordered by a court. But the bill would carve out an exception for the state’s Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to fulfill a request from any of three Congressional committees, provided the committee has already reached out to the Treasury Department.

The three committees named are those with traditional authority over tax policy, including the House Ways & Means Committee, which formally asked for Trump’s tax returns last week. The bill also names the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

To become law, the bill will still need to pass through New York’s democrat-controlled state legislature and be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

READ: How Deutsche Bank Could Reveal the Truth about Trump’s Finances

The bill marks just the latest salvo in New York’s barrage of investigations into Trump, whose sprawling business empire has been headquartered in Manhattan for decades.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has vowed to use her powers to probe Trump’s business practices, and has subpoenaed records from his longtime lender of choice, Deutsche Bank. A separate state watchdog group, the New York Department of Financial Services, has subpoenaed records from the Trump Organization’s insurance broker, Aon.

READ: Michael Cohen Implicated Trump in at Least 11 Different Felonies

Both of those probes were inspired by Congressional testimony from Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who said Trump provided inflated or deflated financial statements to banks, insurance companies and tax officials when it suited his business interests. Telling lies to those groups in pursuit of financial gain could be a crime.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has also slapped criminal charges on Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. If they result in convictions, those state charges would be immune to a presidential pardon, which only applies to federal crimes.

Cover: President Donald Trump smiles as he is applauded as he arrives to speak at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting, Saturday April 6, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)