Republican Warning About SCOTUS Tax Returns Backfires: 'I'd Like to See'

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas on Tuesday warned that the public release of former President Donald Trump's tax returns would let loose a "dangerous new political weapon" that could be used against U.S. Supreme Court justices and private citizens alike.

Some people took to social media later Tuesday to suggest that they would like to see Supreme Court justices' tax returns.

Brady made his remarks during a Tuesday afternoon press conference held before a U.S. House Ways and Means Committee meeting. Committee members were expected to discuss the proposed release of Trump's tax returns during the meeting, which closed to the public shortly after it began.

Brady, the committee's Republican leader, began his remarks by saying the proposed release would mark "unprecedented action" that he said "will jeopardize the right of every American to be protected from political targeting by Congress."

Rep. Kevin Brady on Trump tax release
Representative Kevin Brady (center) speaks alongside fellow Republicans prior to a committee meeting about the public release of former President Donald Trump's tax returns, on December 20 in Washington, D.C. Though Brady warned that the public release of Trump's tax returns could lead to similar document releases for members of the U.S. Supreme Court, some people on Twitter responded by saying they would like to see those kinds of tax documents made public. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Brady said he and other Republicans were not concerned with whether Trump should have released his tax returns while running for president, as many presidential candidates before him did, or whether his tax returns were accurate.

"Our concern is that, if taken, this committee action will set a terrible precedent that unleashes a dangerous new political weapon that reaches far beyond the former president and overturns decades of privacy protections for average Americans that have existed since the Watergate reforms," Brady said.

Brady said whoever leads the committee in the future "will have nearly unlimited power to target and make public the tax returns of private citizens. And not just private citizens: political enemies, business and labor leaders, or even the returns of Supreme Court justices themselves."

C-SPAN streamed Brady's press conference live shortly before the committee voted to move its meeting into executive session. In the hours that followed, people responded to Brady's warnings on social media.

"Don't tease us, Kevin Brady," one person tweeted.

One Twitter user wrote that people who "have nothing to hide" and who "pay your fair share of taxes" should not be worried about having their tax returns released.

Another suggested that making Supreme Court justices' tax returns public would "be a good thing" if there are "legitimate concerns" about any Supreme Court justice "abusing the office to enrich him or herself."

"I'd like to see the tax returns of Supreme Court Justices," tweeted civil rights attorney Scott Hechinger.

The Democrat-led committee's Tuesday meeting came on one of the final days that Democrats remain in control of the U.S. House of Representatives before a new Republican majority takes over on January 3.

Democrats have argued in favor of making Trump's tax returns public for years and only received copies of those tax returns late last month.

All other presidents in recent decades chose to publicly release their tax returns, but Trump did not do so when he first ran for office in 2016 or in the years since. He has argued against Democrat-led efforts to make the documents public and criticized the U.S. Supreme Court after its recent decision allowing the House Ways and Means Committee to receive them.

Following the Supreme Court's decision, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the committee "will now conduct the oversight that we've sought for the last three and a half years."

Republicans on the committee have argued against making Trump's tax returns public and criticized their Democratic colleagues once Tuesday's meeting was scheduled. Brady responded to the scheduled meeting in a statement last week that urged Democrats "not to unleash this dangerous new political weapon on the American people."

The committee is expected to hold a vote on the proposed release of Trump's tax returns later Tuesday. As of 6:30 p.m. ET, the committee was still meeting behind closed doors.

Brady's office referred Newsweek to the committee's press team when contacted on Tuesday. Newsweek contacted the committee for further comment.