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'We Are Facing A Constitutional Showdown': State Senate Passes Bill Targeting Trump's Tax Returns

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The president in Las Vegas John Locher/AP/Shutterstock

On Wednesday, hours after the New York Times published IRS tax transcripts offering an inside look at Trump's previous financial failures, the New York State Senate passed legislation that they say would lead to the full release of the president's tax returns.

Passed by a 39-21 margin, the bill addresses the president's state tax documents, which would have much of the same information as his long-sought federal filing. If passed, the law would permit the New York Department of Taxation and Finance to release any state tax return requested by three congressional committee leaders, assuming it serves a "specific and legitimate legislative purpose."

The legislation comes just as the tax showdown between the White House and Congress has begun to lurch forward. After Trump's Treasury Department defied a House Ways and Means Committee request to release the president's taxes earlier this week, House Democrats are expected to decide on Thursday whether they want to go straight to court to obtain the filings. They were reportedly emboldened to do so by Trump's decision to invoke executive privilege over the Mueller report.

With the federal fight setting up a possible Supreme Court case, lawmakers in Albany believe they've come up with a useful workaround. State Senator Brad Hoylman, who introduced the bill, has previously described its purpose as "assisting Congress in its oversight role." Though similar Trump tax-focused bills have stalled out, lawmakers say this one is more "tangible."

"We are facing a constitutional showdown," Hoylman tweeted on Wednesday. "New York, as the home of the President’s state taxes, has a special responsibility to step into the breach."

A companion bill introduced the State Assembly last week is believed to have broad support. A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told Gothamist: "We plan on discussing the bills with our members next week." Governor Cuomo has said he would sign the bill if it comes to his desk.

Polls have shown that roughly three-quarters of Americans want Trump to release his tax returns, as all of his predecessors have done since Richard Nixon. Recent investigations into his financial dealings have shown that Trump skipped out on hundreds of millions of dollars in owed taxes as a civilian, and that he has continued to blur the line between his political and business life while in office.

A bombshell report from the Times on Wednesday found that Trump claimed $1.17 billion in losses between 1985 and 1994. The president took to Twitter to blast the report as "Fake News," before explaining that he didn't actually lose all that money, but was merely cheating on his taxes.

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