This week sort of felt like a choose your own adventure in politics with everything that’s been going on. There were so many threads you had to follow to figure out what was going on, they gave it its own HBO series called “Game of Chodes.” It’s just like Game of Thrones in that, no one knows how it’s going to end and everyone keeps getting killed off.
First, we had the ongoing shake up at the Department of Homeland Security over issues securing the southern border. Then you had Attorney General William Barr say during a testimony to the Senate that he believes President Trump’s election campaign was spied on, something that has not been proven with any factual evidence. Then we had the small side story of republicans lashing out at Representative Ilhan Ohmar (D-Minn) for calling White House Senior Council Stephen Miller a “white supremacist,” and then again over her comments on 9/11 at a Council on American-Islamic Relations event last month.
And this HBO show wouldn’t be the only one people talk about either.
Julian Assange threw his hat into the spotlight once again when he was arrested yesterday after Ecuador stopped protecting him and evicted him from its embassy in London – eventually being found guilty on charges of failing to surrender himself for a 2012 rape charge in Sweden.
Hell, Michael Avenatti, former celebrity lawyer and current sleaze ball M.V.P., has just been indicted on 36 counts of fraud, wire fraud, perjury and bank fraud. In one case he ripped off a mentally ill paraplegic who was awarded $4 million dollars, which he kept for himself. He’s in so much shit that if he’s convicted of everything, he could face a total of 335 years in prison.
So needless to say, there was a lot going on.
However, there’s a thread that’s been in the making since 2016 during the election that’s finally coming to a head now that democrats have taken control of the house. President Trump and his taxes, which he’s closely guarded from everyone (and there’s a lot of people) that want to see them.
Last week, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Richard Neal (D-MA) formally requested that the I.R.S. hand six years of the president’s taxes over to his committee. The chairman gave the I.R.S. until April 10 on Wednesday to comply with his request.
Well, Wednesday came and went and the committee still don’t have President Trump’s taxes in front of them. Instead, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote a letter to the committee saying that he needed more time to review the request because it was “unprecedented.” In the letter he states:
“The Committee’s request raises serious issues concerning the constitutional scope of congressional investigative authority, the legitimacy of the asserted legislative purpose, and the constitutional rights of American citizens.”
The argument being that if the committee requests this information and the IRS complied, then a standard would be set for every American taxpayer. A fear that if the committee requested the president’s tax information, then their information could be next and where would it stop? After all your taxes are protected under the law.
The president’s own lawyers have written a letter to the Department of Treasury stating that Congress doesn’t have a legit reason to acquire his taxes. Congress can’t lash out against the president just because they disagree with him.
However, experts like Rudy Mehrbani a senior counsel to the Brennan Center argues that Congress has total legal authority to ask for President Trump’s tax returns.
“Congress clearly has a legitimate interest in reviewing the president’s taxes. Those interests include legislative proposals related to how the IRS audits and enforces tax laws against the president and fulfilling Congress’ oversight function by ensuring effective and evenhanded administration of the law.” He said in an interview with Tim Lau, a staff writer for the Brennan Center.
Not to mention that it’s a power given to the committee by the I.R.S.’s own code.
The committee can request the tax returns of any filer based on a 1924 provision of the Internal Revenue Code which gives both the chairmen of the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Finance Committee the authorization to request anyone’s tax returns. It was created to further the balance of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branch of our government. The provision has hardly been used since it’s conception before World War Two.
The provision is so old it falls asleep during important meetings.
I just want to point out that despite the laws that state his tax returns must be turned over, since he’s a public figure holding the highest office in the U.S, his taxes shouldn’t be protected anyway. It’s extremely important that the president release his them. It’s also extremely important that the democrats don’t back down from this fight either.
The act of releasing your tax returns to the public, started with Richard Nixon. The idea of which was to show full transparency of a president’s interest on certain policies. It’s also an act of good faith, a way to show that the president is paying their fair amount of taxes just like everyone else.
The other thing that releasing tax returns as a president does is show if you have any security concerns. It can provide insight into what vulnerabilities the president has as a world leader and whether or not he’s susceptible to foreign influence.
Influence coming from agents such as Russia for example.
Since the president chose to go this route, democrats could easily point out that he has something to hide (which they have). Use this as an opportunity to show the public his character, damage him without actually producing something damaging.
The public is already on their side on this issue anyway
It’s something that the American public genuinely wants to see also. In a poll conducted by CNN in October, 73 percent of the people said that they wanted to see his tax returns. This included members of the republican party.
So why hasn’t he?
President Trump has maintained that he can’t release his taxes because he’s under audit. Never mind the fact that the president is audited every year by the IRS and that they have released their taxes anyway, his statement is false. There isn’t a law that specifically states that anyone can’t release their taxes if they’re under audit. It’s a lie that has been debunked and debunked over and over again so much, that I felt exhausted including this part into my story but never the less:
Mr. President, you can release your tax returns while you’re being audited.
He’s used this countless times and its been covered countless times that you can release your information while under audit. Sooner or later the public will also grow tired of this story and start demanding answers.
This decision to withhold this information has led many experts to ask the question what exactly is he trying to hide? It feels extremely suspicious that our president has insisted that he can’t release his tax returns because he’s being audited. It’s also extremely suspicious that when Chairman Neal issued his request, the president’s response was to lawyer up and fight the request in court.
Back in October, The New York Times released a sprawling report that detailed how President Trump and his siblings amassed a fortune through potentially shady tax dodges and shell corporations set up by his father. What else is there that he doesn’t want the public to see?
This is a smoking gun.
They have him dead to rights on this matter. If they weren’t going to find anything in the Mueller investigation, then they have the next best thing. Not only do they have the power of the law on their side, they have the American public on their side also. President Trump and his supporters preparing themselves to fight this decision in court will more than likely hurt him and he really needs a win right now, thanks to yet another failure over immigration last week.
Even if Democrats don’t get something revealing, they could use this as a tool to drive a wedge between the president and his more moderate base. Point out the fact that, not only has this president failed to deliver on his promises, he’s also been lying to you this entire time (shocker).
If the president had nothing to hide, then why wouldn’t he release his tax returns? Why wouldn’t you take this opportunity to prove your clean from any wrong doing just like you were with Russian collusion during the 2016 election. If he was clean, this would be a massive win for the president and could potentially give him a huge leg up during his 2020 campaign. For someone like President Trump, who worries about the size of his hands, this sounds like a no brainer.
Yet here we are.
I would like to see the president’s tax returns. I do believe that president of the United States of America should be completely transparent about his income and where his interests politically lie. I think that he’s fighting this so much, not because he’s protected by the I.R.S. like ever citizen is (which he isn’t), but because if the public ever did get to see his taxes there would be a mutiny.
When it came out that the House Ways and Means Committee wear going to start digging into President Trump’s taxes, republicans said that this was a hill they were willing to die on. Could you imagine? This was the hill they picked? Not repeal and replace Obama Care? Not immigration reform that works? Not saving industries like automotive and steel?
If this is the case, that republican lawmakers care about defending the president and his tax returns this much, then the decision is easy. Democrats should ready their shovels, because when it comes to full transparency of the president, a public figure, a civil servant, for them. It should be a hill worth dying on too.
When he first released his tax returns and set the standard for every president that came after him, Richard Nixon famously and ironically said:
“I’ve earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say, that in my years of public life, that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”
Can the president say the same?