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News Wrap: House panel debates forcing Trump to disclose his tax returns

In our news wrap Thursday, a House Oversight Panel is reviewing whether President Trump should be forced to disclose his tax returns. Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee approved a tentative subpoena for acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker after he said would not testify before Congress about the Russia probe unless the subpoena was dropped.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker says he won't testify before Congress tomorrow about the Russia probe, unless Democrats drop their subpoena threat.

    The House Judiciary Committee voted today to approve a tentative subpoena to guarantee Whitaker's testimony. Meanwhile, a separate House oversight panel is reviewing whether President Trump should be forced to publicly disclose his personal income tax returns, as is tradition.

    Republicans on the committee accused Democrats of unfairly targeting the president. Democrats pointed out that congressional oversight, not the IRS, uncovered tax fraud committed by former President Richard Nixon.

  • Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.:

    Should the public know whether a person who is running for the office or who is currently leading our nation paid the correct amount of taxes? In the case of Nixon, the answer was yes.

  • Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.:

    Congress is prohibited by law from examining and making public the private tax returns of Americans for political purposes. Such an abuse of power would open a Pandora's box that would be tough to get a lid back on. It would set a dangerous precedent.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    On Twitter this morning, President Trump called the House Democrats' mounting investigations — quote — "a continuation of the witch-hunt." And he lamented that Republicans — quote — "never did this to President Obama."

    Mr. Obama did release his tax returns, as has every president for the last four decades.

    Meanwhile, on the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee voted today to advance the nomination of William Barr. That's President Trump's nominee for attorney general. The vote was split down party lines. If confirmed, Barr will oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    Republicans today said they had faith in Barr's judgment. Democrats remained skeptical.

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.:

    Even though many of my colleagues asked him to pledge to make the special counsel's report public, and he had some language in which he pledged that he would consider doing that, he didn't fully commit to do that, at a time when this nation needs transparency and at a time when our country needs the information.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.:

    As to Mr. Barr and how he will handle the report, I just trust that he will make sure that classified information is protected. If there's a privacy concern, he will protect that, but he will share as much as he reasonably can.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Barr's nomination now goes to a full Senate vote, where he's expected to be confirmed.

    The government health official in charge of reuniting migrant families separated by the Trump administration spoke out today against the zero tolerance policy. Commander Jonathan White of the U.S. Public Health Service said he warned his colleagues of the serious psychological trauma it would cause to children.

    White — White — sorry — told a House subcommittee that he, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement that cares for migrant children, would never have endorsed such a policy.

  • Jonathan White:

    I do not believe that separation of children from their parents is in the best interest of the child. Neither I nor any career person in ORR would ever have supported such a policy proposal.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    The government reported nearly 3,000 children were separated from parents under that zero tolerance policy last year. But a recent watchdog report said there may have actually been thousands of more separated children.

    United Nations investigators say they have evidence that Saudi Arabian officials planned and carried out the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Turkey's intelligence agency has said the dissident and Washington Post columnist was killed and then dismembered inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, last October. U.N. officials today said they had access to part of the — quote — "chilling and gruesome" audio material.

    They also said Saudi Arabia — quote — "seriously undermined" Turkey's efforts to investigate the crime scene. British

    Prime Minister Theresa May was back in Brussels today, trying to rework her deal to withdraw from the European Union. But the two sides are deadlocked over concerns about a potential hard border between British Northern Ireland and E.U. member Ireland. May's last deal to leave the bloc lost handily in Parliament.

    The prime minister met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and remained confident she could get a result.

  • Theresa May:

    Now, it's not going to be easy. But, crucially, President Juncker and I have agreed that talks will now start to find a way through this, to find a way to get this over the line, and to deliver on the concerns the Parliament has, so we get a majority in Parliament.

    And I'm clear that I am going to deliver Brexit. I am going to deliver it on time. That's what I'm going to do for the British public. I will be negotiating hard in the coming days to do just that.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    E.U. officials have said Britain exiting the bloc without a deal in place is — quote — "not an option." The U.K. is set to leave the E.U. on March 29.

    And back in this country, SunTrust and BB&T banks announced plans today to merge, creating what will become the nation's sixth largest bank. It's the first major bank merger since the 2008 financial crisis. The deal between two of the country's largest regional banks is valued at $66 billion.

    Stocks fell sharply on Wall Street today over concerns the global economy is weakening. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged more than 220 points to close at 25169. The Nasdaq fell nearly 87 points and the S&P 500 slipped 25.

    And Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson has died. He passed away in hospice care today at his home in Los Angeles. Robinson was a 12-time All-Star outfielder who hit 586 career home runs. He is the only player to win the MVP award in both the American and National Leagues.

    In 1975, he became the first black manager in Major League Baseball, managing five teams over a 17-year career. Frank Robinson was 83 years old.

    And still to come on the "NewsHour": a moment of reckoning — will Virginia leaders besieged by scandal step aside or seek forgiveness?; what's next for arms control now that the U.S. has pulled out of a major nuclear weapons treaty with Russia?; a look at the Green New Deal, what it is and how it's shaping the Democratic legislative agenda; plus much more.

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