Senate investigation into Russia may force release of Trump’s tax returns

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Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee may use the courts to demand Trump’s tax records.

During the campaign, Donald Trump said he would release his tax returns following what he described as a routine audit. “And as soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released,” he said during a presidential debate.

Whether or not he ever intended to keep that promise, it seems less likely today that he’ll do so voluntarily. Two days after President Trump was sworn in, White House adviser Kellyanne Conway derided the media for continuing to inquire after the documents, while telling ABC News: “He’s not going to release his tax returns.”

But now, more than a month into his presidency, Trump’s tax returns are back in the news as the Senate Intelligence Committee begins a probe into the Trump campaign’s apparent ties to the Russian government. During a radio interview on Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican who sits on that powerful panel, said she’s open to the possibility of using a subpoena to force Trump to hand the documents over.

“I don’t know whether we will need to do that,” Collins said on Maine Public Radio. “If it is necessary to get the answers, then I suspect that we would.”

The Intelligence panel is also seeking to compel various groups and individuals to preserve documents related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the Washington Post reported this week. More than a dozen letters were reportedly sent out, according to an unnamed Senate aide sourced by the Post, asking various officials to preserve records essential to the probe.

The investigation’s launch follows the resignation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, for apparently misleading Vice President Mike Pence and other White House staff about the substance of his calls with the Russian ambassador. Flynn told Pence in early January, falsely, that during those calls the issue of sanctions imposed by the Obama administration were not broached.

Following a two-hour classified briefing last week with FBI Director James Comey, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted that he was “now very confident” a bipartisan investigation would be launched into Russia’s election meddling.

During her radio interview, Collins also suggested that “many of the members” of the panel will request that Flynn personally testify.

H/T Washington Post

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.