Trump Fights To Keep Tax Returns From Congress To 'Protect Future Presidents.' LOLOLOL.
This is your periodic reminder that whatever is in Donald Trump's tax returns is really, really bad. The guy isn't fighting tooth and nail to keep the public from seeing his financials because they showcase what a successful and upright businessman he is. And he sure as hell isn't being modest about his massive philanthropic donations, because those things do not exist. Hell, he doesn't appear to have donated his last six months of salary, after all that chest thumping about what a great president he was because he wasn't even getting paid to do it.
Well, except by all the Republicans, foreign governments, and American businesses which lined up at the doors of the Trump hotel in DC to slip ten or a hundred thousand dollars in the then-sitting president's garter belt.
Anyway! Yesterday the Wall Street Journal was first to report that Trump will be contesting the move to provide his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
"There is no evidence of any wrongdoing here and I object to the release of the returns not only on behalf of my client but on behalf of all future holders of the Office of the President of the United States," the former president's lawyer Ronald Fischetti huffed. Which is fucking rich since no one else running for president in the modern era has refused to disclose his/her taxes. He's preserving the right of future presidents to keep all their corrupt dealings from public view? Thanks, but no thanks, dude.
The issue is coming to a head now because the Justice Department reversed course in an opinion issued Friday by the Office of Legal Counsel, telling the Treasury Department that it does, in fact, need to comply with a congressional demand for Trump's tax returns. This contradicts a June 2019 OLC opinion that concluded that the IRS should not hand over the requested documents because "the Committee's asserted interest in reviewing the Internal Revenue Service's audits of presidential returns was pretextual and that its true aim was to make the President's tax returns public, which is not a legitimate legislative purpose." Thanks, Bill Barr!
Remember back in 2019 when Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin looked into Ways and Means Chair Richie Neal's soul and decided that he had foul intent when demanding Trump's tax returns, as he was entitled by law to do, and so Munch stuck two middle fingers in the air and said, "You and what army?" (Slight paraphrase.) Yeah, we're back to that again.
Under Attorney General Merrick Garland, the OLC is still insisting that the Treasury Department has the right to review the subjective motivations of the Ways and Means Committee before complying with any request for returns, despite the plain language of the statute saying that the IRS "shall" fork it over upon request. Because the executive branch is never going to concede the Congress is its real daddy.
But "applying the proper degree of deference due the Committee," the OLC is now saying that it has an obligation to take Congress at its word when it gives a facially valid explanation for requesting a return.
"[T]here is ample basis to conclude that its June 2021 Request for former President Trump's tax information would further the Committee's principal stated objective of assessing the IRS's presidential audit program—a plainly legitimate area for congressional inquiry and possible legislation," writes Dawn Johnsen, acting head of OLC, citing the Supreme Court's decision in the Mazars case to support the conclusions that the request is legitimate "even if some individual members of Congress hope to see information from the former President's tax returns disclosed on the public record merely 'for the sake of exposure.'"
In plain English, the IRS is not staffed with mind-reading psychiatrists who can evaluate the inner thoughts of members of Congress. Congress enacted the mandatory presidential audit law, and saying that it wants to inspect Trump's returns to assess the efficacy of that statute is a facially valid legislative purpose, so the IRS must comply.
Or as Ron Fischetti puts it, "In my long career of practicing law I have never seen anything like this. This politicization and harassment of Mr. Trump is uncalled for and outrageous." Which is half true, anyway — no president has ever had to be sued to hand over his tax returns before. But Fischetti's client campaigned on a promise to LOCK HER UP his political opponents, launched multiple Justice Department investigations of Hillary Clinton's email servers and Hunter Biden's laptop, attempted to extort the President of Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden, and tried six ways from Sunday to get the DOJ to prosecute non-existent election fraud. Not to mention, we all lived through the Benghazi hearings. So Mr. Fischetti can take several seats with that BS about political harassment.
But he won't. The former president has vowed to sue to prevent the disclosure of his tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee, and US District Judge Trevor McFadden (a Trump appointee, but not an egregiously awful one), has calendared a scheduling conference for tomorrow. So, this nonsense will probably take a while, even without the DOJ running interference.
That filthy sumbitch is going to drag this shit out forever. You know, to protect future presidents.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.