There is no law requiring presidential candidates to release their individual tax returns to the public, but Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Chris Murphy of Connecticut think there should be, especially if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump isn’t going to keep with the tradition.
In a conference call with reporters Thursday, Wyden and Murphy said it’s a good government standard for any presidential nominee to release their tax returns.
Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee who introduced the Presidential Tax Transparency Act in May, said he will make an effort to get the bill called for a vote when Congress returns in September.
The bill would require a candidate to release the most recent three years of tax returns to the Federal Election Commission 15 days after becoming the nominee at the party convention. Since that 15 day window has passed, Wyden said the legislation directs the Treasury Secretary to release Trump’s return to the FEC for public view.
“This is the most powerful position in the world,” Murphy said. “The president of the United States is the most powerful person in the world and the American people deserve to know whether the president of the United States is making decisions in order to advance the best interest of the citizens of this country or the best interest of his wallet.”
Murphy said the push to get Trump to release his tax returns is urgent.
“If Donald Trump had nothing to hide in his taxes, we would have seen them by now,” Murphy said.
Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he’s particularly concerned about the foreign investments that the Trump family holds.
He said the Trump family has documented business dealings with Russia.
“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication.
Murphy said the concern here is that Trump’s positioning on Russia, which is “way out of the foreign policy mainstream,” could be a “play to make himself and his family richer.” He said it’s important for the American public to know whether Trump has investments in Russia.
Why is that important?
Murphy said because the president and the president alone has the power to determine the future of U.S. sanctions on Russia.
“With the stroke of a pen, Donald Trump could change our sanctions policy, which may result in an enormous return to his pocketbook,” Murphy said.
But without the tax returns, Murphy said the American public will be in the dark.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.