It's official! House Republicans—including Washington's own Dave Reichert (R-Auburn), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane), Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside), and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Camas)—are now on record with a vote against allowing the House Ways and Means Committee to request Trump's Tax returns, documents that nearly 75 percent of Americans want to see.
According to Politico, Democrats used "an obscure parliamentary rule" to force a vote on the issue:
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) filed a privileged resolution Monday night calling on Trump to release his tax returns, saying the detailed documents could aid ongoing investigations into potential links between the president, his associates and Russia.
The House voted along party lines to table the resolution, effectively killing the proposal, but not before Democrats demanded a roll call vote forcing Republicans to go on the record.
Advocating for Trump's right to keep his tax returns a secret isn't a new position for Rep. Riechert. Two weeks ago he was one of 23 Republicans on the Ways and Means Committee who voted against an amendment "demanding the committee ask the Treasury Department for copies of Trump's returns."
Some of his constituents have not been happy about that vote. On Monday and Thursday of last week, residents of Washington's 8th district organized demonstrations outside of the Congressman's Issaquah office, calling for him to, among other things, explain why he's not curious about potential conflicts of interest that may be directing Trump's actions on foreign and domestic affairs.
Instead of doing his job and responding to their questions in public, Reichert appeared on King 5 to make a baseless and seemingly spiteful claim that some of his "misinformed, uneducated" constituents believe that Hillary Clinton would succeed Trump if congress impeached him based on compromising info discovered in his returns. He then defended his committee vote by ripping off Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady's line about "privacy," saying, "If we take this step to ask for information about a person, a person's tax reform [sic], where else do we go from here? So, are you next? Am I next? Is another citizen next? Do we ask for their tax information without any basis of fact or any solid evidence as to a wrongdoing?"
The Atlantic's, Conor Friedersdorf explains why Brady's (and by extension Reichert's) logic is bunk:
First, the law [that gives congress power to request a citizen's tax returns] was reportedly used decades ago in the special case of a corrupt president and no slippery slope seems to have been stepped on. Second, a bright-line question easily presents itself to keep Ways and Means off that slope: 'Do we have a Constitutional responsibility to check, balance, and oversee the person whose tax return we are requesting?' That ought to be sufficient to protect 'average Americans.' Third, how many 'average Americans' would even care if Ways and Means pulled their tax return, which consists of information they’re already forced to give the federal government? Fourth, there are about six dozen steps congressional Republicans could take to end privacy abrogations that are orders of magnitude more intrusive than a remote threat of a future Congress voting to look at one’s tax returns! Take ending the NSA program that collects details on the private communications of almost everyone.
Though Monday's roll call vote represents a setback for those who want to see Trumps' returns, there is some hope yet of seeing them. All we need is an IRS employee with two eyes, a whistle, and proper access. From Forbes:
Section §6103(f)(5) is a whistleblower exception to the general rule of nondisclosure. It permits disclosure of tax returns to one of the tax-writing committees by 'any person who otherwise has or had access to any return or return information under this section' when that person believes that 'such return or return information may relate to possible misconduct, maladministration, or taxpayer abuse.'