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GOP again moves to help keep Trump's tax returns secret

History mandates presidential candidates release tax returns, but not how many
History mandates presidential candidates release tax returns, but not how many

For the most part, the controversy over Donald Trump's secret tax returns has been replaced with other presidential scandals, forcing the story out of the headlines. Much of the political world has accepted the fact that the materials will likely never reach the public.

Trump said he'd release them, as every major-party presidential nominee has done since Watergate, but for reasons the Republican hasn't explained, he refuses to be transparent in this area.

But some congressional Democrats remain tenacious on the issue. reported overnight:

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. tried once again Thursday to force President Donald Trump to release his income tax returns. And once again walked away empty-handed.The Republican majority on the House Ways and Means Committee turned down Pascrell's latest motion, as it has his previous attempts to force the president to follow a 40-year precedent and release his financial information.

Pascrell, who's measure demanded Trump's personal and business returns, argued, "How can we debate tax reform proposals without seeing the president's tax returns? [...] Congress has the authority and the duty to obtain and review President Trump's tax returns to ensure there are no potential conflicts of interest in the tax policies he is proposing."

This, evidently, did not prove persuasive. The Ways and Means Committee voted 21 to 14 to reject the New Jersey Democrat's motion, which would've directed the Treasury Department to provide the documents to Congress, with literally zero Republicans breaking ranks.

Why did the panel bring up the motion in the first place if the majority intended to kill it? Well, it's an interesting story.

As we discussed the last time the issue came up, Democrats used a tactic known as a resolution of inquiry, and if the committee didn't consider the measure, Pascrell and his allies could've forced the issue onto the House floor -- which in turn would've created a politically awkward vote for dozens of Republicans.

In other words, it's better to force 21 GOP lawmakers to cast this vote than have 10 times that many GOP lawmakers do the same thing.

Either way, of course, the end result is the same: congressional Republicans are still taking steps to keep the president's tax returns hidden, even from Congress.

Polls show strong public support for Trump disclosing the materials, a related White House petition on the "We the People" website generated over 1 million signatures -- making it the most successful petition in the history of the online project.

Team Trump, to date, has not responded to the petition.