By Pete Schroeder
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House Republicans on Tuesday shot down a legislative effort by Democrats to obtain Treasury Department documents that could show any ties between the finances of President Donald Trump, his inner circle and the Russian government.
The bill was rejected amid intense sparring with Democrats openly wondering whether or not Trump, a Republican, is compromised by a foreign power and Republicans dismissing it as a political stunt.
Representative Jeb Hensarling, the Republican chair of the House Financial Services Committee that rejected the proposal, said the panel would not be spending any time exploring Trump's financial network. Hensarling cited open investigations by congressional committees and a special counsel into conclusions by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election campaign to help New York businessman Trump win.
Moscow has denied any meddling and Trump has denied and collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.
The bill, known as a "resolution of inquiry," is a rarely used legislative tool that allows Congress to formally request certain documents from the executive branch. But following Tuesday's voice vote in the committee, the bill is not expected to receive consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Specifically, the bill sought documents that may have been unearthed by the Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network that could show any ties between Trump's finances and Russia.
Democrats on the committee have been trying for months to obtain financial records tied to Trump. In particular, they have pressed for information involving his business dealings with foreign banks, and any potential connection to Moscow.
"Clearly we have something afoot in this country that leads right to the top," said Representative Earl Perlmutter, a Democrat. "We need to make sure that this nation isn’t under the thumb of another nation because of financial leverage or whatever it might be."
The resolution asked for any records of loans or credit from a number of banks to Trump, and 22 of his closest associates, including family members and top White House and campaign advisers. The banks include Deutsche Bank AG and Russian lenders Sberbank and Gazprombank.
Hensarling chided Representative Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the panel who has called for the president's impeachment, for pushing the bill.
He said it was "frankly and regrettably, a procedural tool that is blatantly political of nature and one that I do not necessarily consider to be worthy of debate."
(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; editing by Grant McCool)