Like Captain Queeg after his strawberries, Democrats want Donald J. Trump’s tax returns. Unless the Supreme Court acts in multiple cases before the New Year, they will get them.
President Trump made two appeals to the United States Supreme Court this past week, both to protect the privacy of his personal tax returns. In New York, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals* ruled that his accountants must send his returns to Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance(D). The president’s lawyers hot-footed it to the Supreme Court to ask for a stay in that case. Meanwhile, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that Trump must release his returns to congressional Democrats in response to a subpoena. He asked the Court to stop the order to allow time for a full appeal.
One of the longest-standing fake news stories about Donald Trump is the tale of his tax returns. He did not release them before or during his candidacy, which is atypical in the current age. First, they seemed to crave the returns for the promise that they would reveal a blow to Trump’s ego and his reputation – that they would show he is not a billionaire. Few can imagine the frustration a man like Michael Bloomberg, whose net worth is estimated to be north of $50 billion, must feel after hearing himself compared with someone whose billions can be counted on one hand.
Got the message?
The former mayor of N.Y.C. and now presidential hopeful let the mask drop in a 2017 interview. “Do you not find it ironic that it is two billionaires from New York who are now deciding America’s climate policies,” interviewer Juliane von Mittelstaedt asked. “I don’t know if I would say it that way,” Bloomberg replied. “Let me phrase this carefully so you get the message: I don’t know how wealthy other people are.” “You mean that Trump may not be a billionaire,” von Mittelstaedt asked. “I didn’t say that,” Bloomberg answered. “You said that.”
Most seemed to have dropped that line of attack. Perhaps all the emolument money they say he gets from the D.C. Trump hotel stays has pushed his net worth over the edge. The other angle is that only Trump’s taxes can reveal all the many schemes and devices he has to gain wealth from Russians and the other scary people he may be in business with. That is fake news because of the president’s Office of Government Ethics disclosure. Those documents include all financial interests Donald J. Trump has in everything and anything. Stocks, bonds, real estate, any corporation, partnership, etc. are revealed in that disclosure, which is renewed every year. Tax returns reveal taxable events and taxes paid, not interests.
Why the Burlesque?
There are potential problems for Trump and the release of the returns. He may have been able to pay little to no taxes for years. It’s that possibility, and perhaps his intransigence on the matter yielding supposition that more juicy bits are in there, that seems to be driving this all-out push. Democrats at the national, state, and local level have moved heaven and earth to see them public.
In New York City, it’s Democrat DA Cyrus Vance. He has used the grand jury process to try and gain access to the returns in a search to reveal the truth behind any financial impropriety in l’affair de Stormy Daniels. Empire State residents no doubt wait with bated breath for the results of this non-political investigation. The lower court ruled that Trump’s accountants must supply his returns in response to Vance’s subpoenas. Trump asks the court to rule that if he cannot be ordered to produce his returns, then his accountants can’t either.
The Democrats who control the House Committee on Oversight and Reform also need to see Donald J. Trump’s tax return. The non-politically motivated reason for their curiosity? They need the financial records as part of an investigation into the adequacy of current government ethics laws. Seriously, that is what they claim. Trump’s filing to the court lays out why allowing that is such a problem:
“[A]ny committee of Congress can subpoena any personal information from the President; all the committee needs to say is that it’s considering legislation that would force Presidents to disclose that same information. Given the temptation to dig up dirt on political rivals, intrusive subpoenas into personal lives of Presidents will become our new normal in terms of divided government—no matter which party is in power. If every committee chairman is going to have this unbounded authority, this Court should be the one to say so.”
We will know in days if the Supreme Court has granted Trump’s request for delay. For the full rulings, we will just have to wait and see.
* In other news this week, President Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnel (R-KY) have, through the judicial nomination and appointment process, flipped the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. That court, which has (had?) a reputation of being quite liberal, now has more Republican nominees sitting upon it than Democrat nominees.
Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.