Republicans are begging a top Democrat to drop the quest for Trump's tax returns

President Donald Trump speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)President Donald Trump.AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

  • Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee requested the Democrat in charge change course on obtaining President Trump's tax returns.
  • The top Republican on the committee, as well as the ranking members on its oversight subcommittee, characterized it as an abuse of authority.
  • The Ways & Means Committee is holding its first hearing on presidential tax returns on Thursday.

WASHINGTON - Republicans on the House Ways & Means Committee asked the new Democratic chairman to drop their quest to obtain President Donald Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department.

In a letter to Ways & Means Chairman and Massachusetts Rep. Richard Neal on Thursday, Republican Reps. Kevin Brady and Mike Kelly pleaded to not pursue Trump's tax returns, citing privacy concerns and what they characterized as a potential abuse of authority.

Read more: Democrats will be able to make Trump's tax returns public if they take back Congress. Here's how.
"Some of the proposals our Committee is considering this week leave us deeply concerned. We believe all Americans have a fundamental right to the privacy of the personal information found in their tax returns," the letter read. "This isn't about the tax returns of the presidents and vice-presidents but about making sure Congress does not abuse its authority. This is about protecting the private tax returns of every American."

Brady, the Ways & Means ranking Republican, and Kelly, the subcommittee on oversight's top Republican, added that Democrats "appear willing to sacrifice this critical protection for political gain" and that revealing the president's tax returns would set a "dangerous precedent."

"When we start making exceptions for one taxpayer, it begins the process of eroding and threatening the privacy rights of all taxpayers," they wrote. "This is a risk we cannot and should not take."

The letter goes on to characterize the quest for Trump's tax returns, which is entirely legal, as "weaponizing our nation's tax code by targeting political foes..."

The Republicans conclude by suggesting the committee "veer away from this dangerous path and work together to develop common sense improvement to our ethics laws."

The letter comes as the committee is set to hold its first hearing on obtaining tax returns from presidents and vice presidents since the Democrats took back majority control of the House.

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