Nadler Faces Uphill Battle in Seeking Trump Financial Data

Judiciary Republicans set to block New York Democrat’s resolution

New York Rep. Jerrod Nadler says his resolution seeks to explore President Donald Trump’s “business entanglements and ties to Russia.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New York Rep. Jerrod Nadler says his resolution seeks to explore President Donald Trump’s “business entanglements and ties to Russia.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted February 28, 2017 at 5:04am

A partisan showdown over President Donald Trump’s potential conflicts of interest is set for the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as Democrats led by Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York push for a vote on his resolution that would require the Justice Department to release documents about Trump’s financial practices. 

The measure set for markup, known as a resolution of inquiry, is likely to be blocked by Republicans, given their 23-17 advantage on the committee, and to be passed over for a floor vote. But it would again put lawmakers on record about Trump in the same way that Ways and Means Democrats pushed unsuccessfully to get the president’s tax returns released.

In a written statement last Friday, Nadler said the resolution is needed to explore Trump’s “business entanglements and ties to Russia.” He linked the resolution to news reports that Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, contacted FBI officials to ask them to respond to a New York Times report about contacts between Trump associates and Russian intelligence.

“It is absolutely critical that the American public knows that we in Congress are doing everything in our power to get at the truth,” Nadler said. “I hope that at least some of my Republican colleagues on the committee understand that an abdication of this responsibility is a direct dereliction of our oath of office.”

His resolution would direct Justice Department officials to deliver to the House any documents or communications concerning Trump’s financial activities as well as any criminal or counterintelligence investigations involving Trump, any employee of the executive office of the president, or several named former aides and advisers who have had ties to Russia.

The persons covered by that directive include Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser; Paul Manafort, a former Trump campaign chairman; Carter Page, a former foreign policy adviser; and Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser.

The measure also would require the Justice Department to turn over documents and communications that deal with Trump’s proposal “to maintain an interest in his business holdings, while turning over day-to-day operation of those interests to his sons, Donald J. Trump Jr. and Eric Trump,” and would potentially cover any tax returns or other financial records that have been obtained by the DOJ.

It also asks for documents containing details of any investments by foreign governments or foreign agents in Trump’s businesses, or information concerning Trump’s proposal to donate to the Treasury profits from any foreign government’s use of his hotels.

The resolution seeks documents related to any federal conflicts of interest or any potential violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution involving Trump and executive branch employees. The Emoluments Clause forbids the president from accepting any gifts from a foreign government or its leaders. 

A House Judiciary Committee aide said the resolution must be reported by the committee within 14 legislative days after its introduction, which occurred Feb. 9. The panel could report it favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation, or it “can be brought up on the House floor immediately thereafter, so the committee plans to address this resolution,” the aide said. 

According to aides from both parties, the measure is likely to be reported with an unfavorable recommendation or without any recommendation — meaning it’s unlikely to get a House floor vote. Aides said the measure won’t go to the House floor unless it wins committee approval with a favorable recommendation.

The Ways and Means Committee voted along party lines, 15-23, on Feb. 14 to reject a Democratic amendment that called for the panel to use its authority to force the IRS to release Trump’s tax returns for the last 10 years.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has said she believes the panel could use its subpoena power to obtain Trump’s tax returns to see if he has ties to Russia. 

“No, we’re not going to do that,” House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes said Monday, when reporters asked if his panel would subpoena Trump’s tax returns in connection to its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Jason Dick contributed to this report.