Amid all the grandstanding and angry speech-making at the House Oversight Committee hearing with Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, one lawmaker went in with a seemingly clear purpose. When it was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s turn to ask questions, she stuck to brief questions with a laser focus on Trump’s finances and taxes. Democrats have long wanted to get a hold of Trump’s tax returns but lacked a clear reason to be able to subpoena them. Ocasio-Cortez may have just handed it to them on a silver platter.
Ocasio-Cortez started by picking up on previous lines of questioning regarding whether he knew if Trump ever “provide[d] inflated assets to an insurance company.” When Cohen answered yes she continued: “Do you think we need to review his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?” Cohen answered yes again.
During her questioning, Ocasio-Cortez repeatedly asked Cohen about ways in which Trump may have tried to decrease his tax bill by undervaluing his properties.* At one point she quoted a report from the New York Times that said Trump undervalued the properties he inherited. Cohen said he didn’t know anything about that because he wasn’t working for Trump then but noted that Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg could shed light on the issue. “Would it help for the committee to obtain federal and state tax returns from the president and his company to address that discrepancy?” Ocasio-Cortez asked. “I believe so,” Cohen answered.
With the questions, Ocasio-Cortez appeared to be giving at least an attempt at what Democrats could say to justify demanding to see Trump’s tax returns. Although some analysts believe it still wouldn’t be enough justification, it could at the very least lay the groundwork for a subpoena. Needless to say many were impressed by the freshman lawmaker’s line of questioning.
Correction, Feb. 28, 2019: This post originally misstated that AOC was asking about ways Cohen may have tried to minimize his tax bill. The questioning was about Trump.