Rep. Richard Neal, the only Democrat on Capitol Hill who can formally request Trump’s tax returns using IRS rules, said Tuesday evening that he is not clear on when he will request President Donald Trump’s tax returns and that Neal will do it only after his committee has built his case in seeking them.
Pressed repeatedly by reporters Tuesday evening on what his timeline is for his committee to seek Trump’s tax returns, Neal said, “We continue to work with counsel and I continue to limit my comments because of counsel’s advice.”
“We are doing our due diligence,” Neal said. “I don’t have a timeline.”
Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is the only Democratic lawmaker among the members of Congress who can request the President’s tax returns under IRS code.
In a week where Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have publicly ramped up investigations targeting Trump’s campaign, administration and businesses, speculation has been rampant over what steps Neal or his committee would take toward requesting Trump’s tax returns.
Even some of Neal’s committee members have publicly speculated that the formalized request for Trump’s taxes could come soon. New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell told Politico earlier Tuesday that the ask could come in about two weeks, though Pascrell later clarified that was based on his personal opinion.
“I think, my prediction is that Richard Neal is gonna do it in the next couple of weeks,” Pascrell said Tuesday. “That doesn’t mean he’s gonna do it.”
Neal acknowledged Pascrell comments Tuesday evening but stood by his claim that he did not have a timeline.
Rep. Brian Higgins, another Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said that he believes that Neal is “waiting on the appropriate time” and that there is a dynamic where Neal is trying to understand the process. While Higgins says he believes the request would come “soon,” he said he is basing that on his “intuition.”
Since the early 1970s, most presidents have chosen to release their tax returns to the public for the years they serve in office and only while they hold office, which they are not required to do under the law. The practice began with Jimmy Carter, who ran and took office in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s tax scandal and Watergate. That tradition broke in 2016, when Trump became the first major candidate to refuse, citing an ongoing audit.
CNN’s Donna Borak and Alex Rogers contributed to this report.