Rep. Kevin Brady calls for probe into whether Trump’s tax information release was ‘illegal’
The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, this week called for an investigation into the source who released President Trump’s tax return information to The New York Times over the weekend, calling it “illegal” and for “political reasons.”
Brady, R-Texas, slammed what his office called a potentially criminal leak of the president’s private tax information, which The New York Times published over the weekend, saying the president paid no federal income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years.
“While many critics question the article’s accuracy, equally troubling is the prospect that a felony crime was committed by releasing the private tax return information of an individual — in this case the President’s,” Brady said in a statement this week.
“To ensure every American is protected against the illegal release of their tax returns for political reasons, I am calling for an investigation of the source and to prosecute if the law was broken,” he said.
According to the New York Times report, Trump — who has fiercely guarded his tax filings and is the only president in modern times not to make them public — paid $750 in taxes to the federal government the year he was elected and $750 again his first year in office.
The disclosure, which The Times said comes from tax return data extending over two decades, comes at a pivotal moment ahead of the first presidential debate Tuesday and a divisive election.
A lawyer for the Trump Organization, Alan Garten, denied to The New York Times that the president paid such a small amount of taxes – saying in a statement obtained by Fox News that Trump “has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015.”
“The New York Times’ story is riddled with gross inaccuracies. Over the past decade the President has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government,” Garten said. “While we tried to explain this to the Times, they refused to listen and rejected our repeated request that they show us any of the documentation they purport to be relying on to substantiate their claims.”
He added: “Obviously this is just part of the Times’ ongoing smear campaign in the run up to the election.”
The New York Times did not release the copies of Trump’s tax filings they had received, saying they were protecting sources.
Meanwhile, the president has been on the defense since the publication of the report, calling it “fake news” and “totally made up.”
On Monday, the president put out a series of tweets, explaining that he paid “millions of dollars” to the Internal Revenue Service and argued he is “entitled” to tax credits “like everyone else.”
“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent,” Trump tweeted Monday morning.
“I paid millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits,” he continued. “Also, if you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged—I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.”
The president went on to say that “much of this information is already on file, but I have long said that I may release Financial Statements, from the time I announced I was going to run for President, showing all properties, assets and debts.
“It is a very IMPRESSIVE Statement, and also shows that I am the only President on record to give up my yearly $400,000 plus Presidential salary!” he added.
Trump, whose net worth is claimed to be in the billions, denied that he paid such a small amount in taxes.
“I’ve paid a lot and I’ve paid a lot of state income taxes too,” he said.
Even before being elected to the White House in 2016, Trump was heavily criticized for not releasing his taxes. He has claimed multiple times that he is under a routine audit by the IRS and will release his filings once the audit is over.
“I’m under audit,” Trump said Sunday. “They’re doing an assessment.”
Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly, John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.