New York state legislature votes to make Trump tax returns available

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state’s legislature on Wednesday passed a bill that would make it easier for U.S. congressional committees investigating President Donald Trump to get access to his state tax returns.

FILE PHOTO - U.S. President Donald Trump reacts as he addresses a Trump 2020 re-election campaign rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania, U.S. May 20, 2019.    REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The Democratic-controlled state Assembly and Senate voted along party lines on the measure, which would circumvent his refusal to hand over his federal tax returns to Congress.

New York Republicans who opposed the bill called it an abuse of power that fed into the political designs of Democrats in Washington, the Albany Times-Union reported. It now goes to Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo for final approval.

Trump has refused to release any of his tax returns, breaking a decades-long tradition of U.S. presidents making their personal finances public to demonstrate that they have no conflicts of interest.

Although the bill does not name Trump, it allows the state Department of Taxation and Finance to share state tax return information with a congressional committee that requests it. Much of the information submitted in New York state tax returns is similar to that on federal forms.

Trump and Democrats who control the U.S. House of Representatives are locked in a battle over their ability to investigate him.

The president is stonewalling multiple congressional investigations by ignoring subpoenas, refusing to allow current and former advisers to testify, and not handing over documents.

For example the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee requested Trump’s federal tax returns by subpoena but the request was denied by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Trump’s personal home and the headquarters for his business are in New York, requiring him to file state tax returns in addition to his federal returns.

“New York has a unique role to help head off the constitutional crisis brewing between Congress and the White House over refusal to comply with the request for Donald Trump’s tax returns,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senator Brad Hoylman, according to the Times-Union. “We are affirming Congress’ role as a co-equal branch of government and the sacred constitutional principle that nobody is above the law, not even the highest elected official in the land.”

In comments to reporters on Wednesday, Trump criticized Democrats for continuing their wide-ranging follow-up to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump said, responding to a charge made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just moments ago.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the New York legislation.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; editing by Jonathan Oatis