WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump derided House Democrats as “going ‘nuts' ” and accused them of “Unlimited Presidential Harassment” a day after top congressional Democrats announced plans to probe the president’s finances.
“PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT! It should never be allowed to happen again!” Trump wrote in a burst of Thursday morning tweets that came hours before a House Ways and Means subcommittee held a hearing with tax law experts on proposed legislation aimed at getting Trump and future presidential candidates to disclose a decade of tax returns.
Trump has refused to release his tax returns, bucking decades of past presidential candidates releasing their forms for public scrutiny. The president has said he has not released his tax documents because they remain under audit.
On Twitter, Trump took direct aim at House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in his tweets, after Schiff announced Wednesday his committee will investigate “credible reports of money laundering and financial compromise.”
Trump complained that Schiff “is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so. Never happened before! Unlimited Presidential Harassment . . . ”
“The Dems and their committees are going ‘nuts,’ ” Trump tweeted. “The Republicans never did this to President Obama, there would be no time left to run government. I hear other committee heads will do the same thing.”
Trump said House Democrats were “stealing people who work at White House!” to aid with their investigations. A committee aide told The Washington Post that Schiff has hired a former junior-level National Security Council researcher, but no political appointees from the White House.
The president, who has repeatedly referred to special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russia’s election interference and alleged ties to the Trump campaign as a witch hunt, called the House Democrats’ probe a “continuation of Witch Hunt!”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), responding to questions about the president’s tweets, told reporters Thursday, “Whatever the president says about us, he’s projecting his own unruliness. He’s a projector.”
“We will not surrender our constitutional responsibility for oversight,” Pelosi said. “That would make us delinquent in our duties.”
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), in a televised interview with CNN, said lawmakers “have a duty as a separate branch of government of oversight,” but added “at the same time, it can’t be only about investigations. We have to govern as well.”
“You’re really on a knife’s edge of balance,” said Suozzi, who sits on the House Ways and Means committee. “You can’t go all the way over here that you ignore your responsibilities of oversight, and you can’t go all the way over here that you become political and you’re just going after the president because he’s from a different party . . . we have to find that right balance between what our obligation is constitutionally . . . while at the same time not letting it become something that is partisan.”
At Thursday’s subcommittee meeting, George Yin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, told the panel the Treasury secretary could not deny lawmakers’ request for the president’s tax returns, even as the ranking Republican member of the committee warned that seeking the president’s returns could open a “Pandora’s box” of similar requests on everyday citizens.
“I don’t see any wiggle room in the statute for the secretary to refuse a request,” said Yin, a former chief of staff for the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Also Thursday, Trump addressed a group of religious leaders and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, using the occasion to defend his calls for added restrictions on late-term abortions.
“We must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life,” Trump said. “All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.”
The president also touted his administration’s support for faith-based adoption centers, which have come under scrutiny in some states over their refusal to work with same-sex couples.
“My administration is working to ensure faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs,” Trump said.
— With Tom Brune