Stephanie Ruehl introduced Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien as "one of the few people on planet Earth who has actually seen Donald Trump's taxes. I know you can't dig into what was in them, Tim, but why is it such a big deal?"
"Well, I can talk generally about it. I think the main reason it is a big deal is that if you get the returns and you can go back far enough with the returns, you will see what kind of money he's got coming in from overseas, from places like Russia or China or the Middle East," he said.
"The obvious issue that raises is whether or not income he has from foreign sources compromise his ability to make independent policy, whether he is thinking about public policy making or deal making. I think that is the issue that gets surfaced through the taxes."
"Come on, do you think we'll ever see them?" a skeptical Ruehl said.
"I suspect not. There will be a big battle. And I don't think six years is going to be enough. There was a period where he bought a golf course in Scotland, and there is always the issue about where did the cash come from because he typically throughout his career had used debt to finance his acquisitions. And suddenly they started spending a lot of cash. Eric has said Russia, then said he was 'speaking out of the wrong side of my mouth.' Trump's never really said where the money has come from. but that gets you back to 2000 and 2005 and 2006 and that is not in the period where that the Congress is looking for returns," O'Brien said.
"The president has spoken a lot in the past about releasing his taxes. I want to share a bit," Ruehl said.
Maybe I'm going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate.
If I decide to run for office, I'll produce my tax returns, absolutely.
You don't learn anything from the tax return. I'm being audited for two or three years so I can't do it.
"Okay. He was elected, he did not release his tax returns and I remember Kellyanne Conway went on TV and said 'That has already been litigated, people don't care anymore.' You and I both know they do."
"Right, Stephanie. And that is one of the things that house investigators think that they can get to the bottom of, which is this claim by the president the entire time during the campaign and now that he is still under audit. as part of this request, they want any correspondence with the IRS to prove whether that is true," Heidi Przybyla said. (Editor's note: Being audited does not prevent Trump from releasing his returns, as was confirmed by the IRS when he was a candidate.)
"But to Tim's point, the reason why this has taken so long -- because a lot of Democrats wanted to do this when they took control of the House, but the reason it has taken so long, Chairman (Richard) Neal is very calculated about what he can ask for. That may well happen, but he was advised to make this very tailored, to do six years instead of ten, and to only do a select number of the business entities that the president owns. He has 500 LLCs that the committee could have gone after but didn't."
"But why? Why be this particular?" Ruehl asked.
"They don't want to get buried in paperwork and they thought that they could be a little more strategic and focus on the potential landmines like those entities that own the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. to get to the bottom of those conflict of interest questions," Przybyla said.
"Point number two, in addition to conflict of interest, they want to look at that detailed reporting that we saw from the New York Times about this history, this culture in the Trump family of essentially evading taxes. The New York Times did report, and it has been reported in the past, that the Trump family may have benefited as much as $400 million in inheritance money from the elder Trump to Trump himself by essentially evading taxes. So this committee thinks that this is another way of getting at what Michael Cohen testified to to see if that is accurate or not, that the president was inflating his assets to insurance companies, and then deflating them for taxes."