(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, on Friday warned of the "dangerous path" that may open if a person's tax returns are weaponized.
"I think going down this path of having the chair of the Ways and Means Committee request tax returns is a dangerous path," Reed told CNN's "New Day."
"I mean, that's a tremendous amount of power, and if you weaponize this in this political environment, I will tell you, don't be surprised in the future years that other chairmen are going use this for political purposes. And that's a danger that we need to recognize on this issue."
Ever since President Donald Trump was elected, Democrats have demanded the release of his tax returns. Those demands have grown more urgent, especially this week, when President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen said it might be helpful to the House Oversight Committee -- and harmful to Trump -- to get a look at his federal and state tax returns.
Reed said instead of forcing the release of Trump's or anyone else's tax returns, Congress should improve the financial disclosure forms that all candidates must file.
"Why don't we focus on the disclosure forms, amend those, get all the information out in a more detailed analysis so that innocent bystanders -- also their privacy has to be respected in this conversation -- are not brought into this political warfare."
Reed said it wouldn't surprise him if Trump's tax returns are being audited, given the magnitude of his business interests.
At Wednesday's committee hearing, Cohen explained why he thinks Trump refused to release his tax returns, as other presidents have done: "What he didn't want was to have an entire group of think tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces and then he'll end up in an audit."
Cohen said he "presumed" that Trump is not currently under audit.
Reed said to believe Michael Cohen is a "questionable foundation to start with."
"But, you know, he said 'presumed'. If you're his personal attorney, why don't you know that? You're talking about all the private information, you presume that he is (under audit)? You assume? That shows credibility issues with Michael Cohen."
Reed said, "The bottom line on the Trump tax issue, in my opinion is, if we go down this path of weaponizing the Ways and Means Committee for political purposes, we do it eyes wide open."
Reed repeated his suggestion of reforming financial disclosure forms in a way that gives the public information about the president and vice president without divulging details about "everybody that's ever been associated with them over decades of business relationships."
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