As had been predicted, the Democrat-led House Ways and Means Committee wasted little time in publicly releasing lightly redacted copies of former President Donald Trump's personal and business tax returns for the past several years after obtaining them from the IRS via a court order.
What may have been surprising to some, however, is that there was little to no evidence therein of any major transgressions or violations of the tax code, as had been repeatedly asserted would be found by Trump's critics, the New York Post reported.
Instead, what the six years of released returns showed was that Trump actually lost tens of millions of dollars in wealth over the course of his presidency while still paying the IRS more than a million dollars combined in taxes due during that same span of time.
The Democrat-led committee first filed a lawsuit in 2019 to demand access to then-President Trump's personal and business tax returns and records for the years 2015 through 2020, ostensibly as part of an effort to legislatively reform a mandatory IRS audit program aimed exclusively at presidents and vice presidents.
That legal battle finally concluded with a victory for the committee earlier this year, and the requested records for Trump were finally turned over to the committee earlier in December.
The committee then swiftly released a 29-page final report that highlighted apparent problems with the IRS mandatory audit program and offered up recommendations for how those issues could be addressed going forward.
As for Trump's personal and business tax returns, they revealed that Trump reported negative income in four of the six years covered and, as was already known, that his family organization, which also operated at a loss in most of the covered years, conducts business and pays taxes in numerous other foreign countries, including China.
The public release of former President Trump's tax returns, even with some of his personal information redacted, was broadly decried by Republicans as a gross violation of privacy and a disturbing precedent set by Democrats who may eventually come to regret the veritable Pandora's Box they just opened.
The Washington Examiner reported that Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee, said the release from his Democratic colleagues proved that there was never any "legitimate legislative purpose" behind the obsessive efforts to obtain Trump's tax returns that resulted in "an unprecedented decision to unleash a dangerous new political weapon" against the American people.
"Going forward, all future Chairs of both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of private citizens, political enemies, business and labor leaders or even the Supreme Court justices themselves," Brady said. "This is a regrettable stain on the Ways and Means Committee and Congress, and will make American politics even more divisive."
Others, such as Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO), suggested that turnabout was fair play and said, "Democrats will only have themselves to blame come January as they have now given the incoming Republican Majority the clear authority to use all tools available to investigate whether President Biden and his family have enriched themselves off the Washington Democrats’ agenda."
Further, Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-TX) pointed out the dishonesty of the claim by committee Democrats that the tax returns were necessary to investigate the IRS mandatory audit program by highlighting the fact that, while the program has applied to all presidents and vice presidents since the 1970s, it was just the returns of Trump and only Trump that had been sought for supposed review.
Then there was the reaction from former President Trump himself to the public release of his returns, who said in a statement, "The Democrats should have never done it, the Supreme Court should have never approved it, and it’s going to lead to horrible things for so many people. The great USA divide will now grow far worse. The Radical Left Democrats have weaponized everything, but remember, that is a dangerous two-way street!"
Separately, according to the Post, Trump also justifiably insisted, "This precedent must now be applied to the corrupt Democrats themselves. The new Republican House should immediately obtain the financial records of Joe Biden and his entire criminal enterprise."