New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill Monday that would allow certain members of Congress to access President Trump’s New York state tax returns.
The bill requires New York officials to release tax returns of public officials that have been requested by “congressional tax-related committees” that have cited “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” in seeking them.
“By amending the law enforcement exception in New York State tax code to include Congressional tax-related committees, this bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system, and ensure that no one is above the law,” he added.
The bill is seen as a clear shot at the president, who has refused to release his tax returns.
Trump has declined to make public his tax returns, in contrast to a number of former presidents. But there is no law requiring presidents or presidential contenders to release their tax returns.
The New York bill, which passed the state Senate and Assembly in May, requires the state to share state income tax returns and reports if they’re requested by the chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Any information that would violate state or federal law would be redacted.
One of Trump’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow, called the bill “more presidential harassment” on Monday afternoon
“We will respond to this as appropriate,” he added.
“Such request must be accompanied by certification that the tax returns or reports have been requested for a specified and legitimate legislative purpose, the requesting committee has made a written request to the U.S Secretary of the Treasury for related federal returns or return information and that the returns will be treated by the requesting committee in a manner consistent with federal law authorizing the same committees to request and receive federal income tax returns from the U.S. Treasury,” Cuomo’s office said in a statement.
Democratic lawmakers have been seeking Trump’s taxes for months in the wake of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, which lacked the evidence the opposition party had hoped to seize upon to try to impeach the president.
Opponents of the legislation criticized it as “political,” with one Republican assemblyman, Doug Smith, saying in May as the legislation was being debated that lawmakers were “using this body as a weapon against” Trump.
Meanwhile, Cuomo could act soon on another bill that is aimed at Trump.
That legislation would allow state prosecutors to pursue charges against certain people even if they had received a presidential pardon. Trump has spoken about the possibility of pardoning those accused or convicted of crimes stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.