Tax justice groups on Friday called on Democrats to make use of the most illuminating parts of Michael Cohen’s testimony at a House Oversight Committee hearing earlier this week—arguing that his detailing of President Donald Trump’s long history of alleged tax fraud gives lawmakers ample reason to subpoena the president’s tax returns.
Thanks largely to pointed questioning by first- and second-term legislators including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Cohen described how he witnessed Trump devaluing assets to avoid paying taxes on them and shared the names of specific Trump associates who also knew about this activity. Cohen also alleged that Trump’s son, Donald Jr., and former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg repaid Cohen $130,000 in hush money he had given adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Ocasio-Cortez’s line of questioning was particularly credited by observers with building a case for subpoenaing the president’s tax returns, enabling members of Congress to compare the returns with his financial statements to confirm the fraud.
The national advovacy group Tax March argued on social media that the Cohen hearing may open to door to a number of potential investigations into the president’s financial history.
“The Cohen hearing demonstrated that there is a lot that Donald Trump could be hiding,” the group wrote on Twitter. “Democrats must move forward with obtaining and releasing Trump’s tax returns so the American people know the truth.”
Americans for Tax Fairness also called on Democrats to use their control of the House to finally hold the president accountable for his alleged crimes.
Michael Cohen’s testimony has confirmed what most Americans already know, Trump is a TAX CHEAT! Congress must obtain his tax returns so we can finally see the full extent of his criminality, if any. #ReleaseTheReturns pic.twitter.com/CW9pMMLYuo
— For Tax Fairness (@4TaxFairness) March 1, 2019
Cohen’s testimony finally provided Democrats with guidance on how to make the case for examining Trump’s tax returns and calling other witnesses to give further details on the president’s financial history.
According to the Washington Post, the House Intelligence Committee is planning to question Weisselberg on Trump’s financial past. The panel has already called Felix Sater, a Trump associate who worked with Cohen to develop Trump Tower in Moscow, to testify on March 14.
The House Financial Services Committee is planning to investigate the Trump Foundation, the president’s now-closed charity, which Trump used to pay for a $60,000 portrait of himself.
“I think that’s an area that should be looked at, because I think the foundation has been used by him to avoid paying taxes on money he’s earned,” Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) told Politico.
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) told the Post that Cohen “set a very rich table. We’re now looking at a 10-course meal.”
Members of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has the authority to subpoena Trump’s tax returns, on Thursday called on Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) to move forward with demanding their release.
“He brought out many situations where the tax returns are the only answer,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, told ABC News.
“It’s time,” added Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) on Twitter.
According to Michael Cohen, Trump won’t release his #TaxReturns because he’s afraid the scrutiny of them will lead to him facing “taxable consequences and penalties.”
My other committee, @WaysMeansCmte, has the power to obtain Trump’s tax returns.
I think it’s time we did so. pic.twitter.com/0NVDrQu5N4
— Rep. Jimmy Gomez (@RepJimmyGomez) February 27, 2019