The New York Senate approved two bills on Wednesday aimed at forcing US President Donald Trump to release his tax returns and limiting his power to pardon state criminal offenses.
The first, New York Senate Bill S5072A, requires the state’s commissioner of taxation to release state tax return information to certain committees in the US Congress when requested. If the bill is approved by the State Assembly, the US House Ways and Means Committee, the US Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation will have the ability to obtain New York state tax returns for certain state and federal officeholders as required for “any legitimate legislative purpose.” The bill is aimed at compelling the release of Trump’s tax returns, which he has refused to disclose despite being demanded by congressional subpoena. The passage of the bill comes on the heels of a report by the New York Times earlier in the week revealing over $1 billion in losses claimed by Trump during the 1980s and 90s.
The second bill, Senate Bill S4572, closes a “double jeopardy loophole” that allowed presidential pardons to apply to certain state criminal charges. The bill is extremely limited in scope, applying only to “severe conflicts of interest” such as family members and employees of the president who are pardoned. State Senator Todd Kaminsky, the primary sponsor of the bill, stated that the proposal was preemptive, aimed at preventing Trump from “improperly us[ing] the pardon power to help his associates and undermine the rule of law.” If approved by the Assembly, the bill would permit state prosecutors to pursue charges against individuals who violated state criminal laws regardless of a presidential pardon.