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CEDAR RAPIDS — The White House has rejected House Democrats’ demand that President Donald Trump turn over his tax returns, but Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said the president should release them.

“He should voluntarily release them. Yes,” she said Wednesday during a conference call with Iowa reporters.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin this week told majority House Democrats that he would not furnish the president’s tax returns despite a 1924 law that seems to explicitly give Congress power to request those documents. After consulting with the Justice Department, Mnuchin said potential privacy violations justify the decision to shield Trump’s returns from Congress.

Pressed on why she thinks it’s important for Trump to make his returns public, Ernst said she doesn’t know that it is important.

“But I think there are a lot of folks that have stated that they want to see them,” Ernst said. “But I don’t know what bearing that has on whether he’s qualified to be president or not.”

Her comments follow publication Wednesday by the New York Times of tax information it received from someone it described as having legal access to Trump’s tax returns for the years 1985-94. That information showed he lost more than $1.17 billion in that time and avoided paying income tax in eight of those 10 years.

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