March 07,2017

Press Contact:

Rachel McCleery (Finance) (202) 224-4515 
Miranda Margowsky (Stabenow) (202) 224-1154 

Wyden, Stabenow Continue to Urge Chairman Hatch to Allow Review of Trump’s Tax Returns

Senators renewed call in light of new conflicts-of-interests between Russia and Trump Associates

Returns would be reviewed privately by Members on the Committee in closed Executive Session

WASHINGTON  Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Senate Finance Committee member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) today once again called on Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to use his authority to allow members of the Committee to privately review the President’s tax returns.  This request follows reports of contacts between Russia and Trump associates that continue to surface, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Jared Kushner.  Senator Hatch rejected Sens. Wyden and Stabenow’s request last week in a letter to Senator Wyden that inaccurately stated the history and use of the Finance Chairman’s authority.

“Fully investigating Trump associates’ ties to Russia must include allowing both Democrats and Republicans on the Finance Committee to privately review Mr. Trump’s returns,” Wyden said. “This is an authority the Chairman is granted by law and one that has been used in the past to investigate matters of national security.  Mr. Sessions’ misstatements to Congress about his own Russia connections only escalates the need for immediate transparency about every aspect of Mr. Trump’s financial entanglements.”

“President Trump’s ties to Russia are complicated and troubling but the issue for us is simple and clear—it is Congress’s job to provide oversight, to investigate, and to find answers,” Stabenow said. “Russia is not our friend and threatens our national security. We need to know that Donald Trump is looking out for the American people, not for his own interests.”

Earlier this year, Senator Wyden introduced the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which requires all sitting presidents to release their most recent 3 years of tax returns to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE).  It also requires that, within 15 days of becoming the nominee at the party convention, presidential nominees must release their most recent 3 years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). 

The text of the letter can be found here and below:


Dear Chairman Hatch:

On March 1, 2017, Senator Stabenow and several members of the Finance Committee sent a letter urging you to request President Trump’s tax returns for review by both Republicans and Democrats on the Committee in closed executive session.  Your negative response to our letter, in light of the unprecedented conflicts of interest of the President, including those with Russia that continue to surface, result in our having to renew our request. Your response to our initial letter mischaracterized our request, as well as the precedent of the Finance Committee’s use of IRC section 6103.  We hope that in light of the critical national security implications of this issue you will come to a different conclusion.

There is no debate that the conflicts in question pose a threat to American national security and the integrity of the government of the United States and more and more keep coming to light.  Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions acknowledged he met twice with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while serving as one of the Trump campaign’s top foreign policy advisors. These communications occurred at the height of Russia’s campaign to disrupt the U.S. presidential election.[1]  This is the latest in a long string of reported secret communications with the Russian government by the Trump campaign and other Trump associates.[2] 

National security has long been a focus of the Senate Finance Committee’s oversight role.  With respect to the Finance Committee’s trade agenda, for example, you have regularly discussed national security implications.[3],[4] In addition, last year, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, you requested the Treasury Inspector General investigate payments to Iran and whether any payments were to individuals or entities that promote terrorism.[5]  Specifically with respect to the Committee’s use of section 6103 authority, in December of 2003, then Finance Committee Chairman Grassley requested the IRS provide the Committee with 6103 information related to organizations financing terrorism.[6]  

Your letter, however, suggests that section 6103 authority has only been used by the Finance Committee to investigate specific allegations of misconduct by federal government officials.[7]  Based on public records this claim is untrue. In September of 2009, then Chairman Grassley obtained 6103 information related the Association of Community Organizations and Reform Now (ACORN) following release of a secretly recorded video produced by conservative advocate James O’Keefe.[8] Similarly, in April of 2006 then Chairman Grassley along with Senator Baucus requested corporate tax returns for the 15 largest oil and gas companies via the Committee’s 6103 authority.[9] And in January of 2009 then Chairman Grassley and Senator Baucus requested 6103 information related to tax returns of Enron Corporation executives.[10] While each of these requests were related to matters of national interest, none related specifically to misconduct of federal officials, or even tax administration.

Your letter also mischaracterizes the request made by Senator Stabenow and several members of the Finance Committee.  Specifically, your letter states that we requested you “obtain and release” the President’s tax returns.[11]  Our letter does not request that you release the returns. Rather, we requested that you obtain the tax returns of the President and his businesses for review by Committee members in closed executive session.  As you know, 6103 information reviewed in closed executive session of the Finance Committee remains subject to the section 6103 limitations—similar to confidential and classified material presented in closed hearing held by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and other committees. 

As stated in our previous letter, we regard the confidentiality of tax return information as a fundamental part of our tax system. Accordingly, the powers under section 6103 provide a venue for members of the Senate Finance Committee to examine matters of national importance in closed executive session, while maintaining the confidentiality crucial to our tax system.  If Committee members identify ties or relations to foreign governments within these documents, we will respectfully request the Chairman and members of the committee hold a vote to make that information available to the public.  If such information is found, as Chairman of the Finance Committee, it is within your prerogative to weigh the national security interests of releasing such information against the principle of taxpayer privacy.

When we took the Oath of Office of the Senate, we swore to support the Constitution of the United States.  With the impartiality of the Department of Justice in question, it is more important than ever that members of the Senate’s tax writing committee—through your authority—understand who and what ties the President has to foreign governments.  Given the lack of details behind ongoing revelations into Trump associates’ relationships with foreign governments, we once again respectfully request that you use this authority to obtain the tax returns of President Trump and his businesses for review by committee members in a closed executive session of the Finance Committee.


[7] Letter from Chairmen Hatch and Brady to Ranking Member Wyden, Mar. 1, 2017

[11] Letter from Chairmen Hatch and Brady to Ranking Member Wyden, Mar. 1, 2017