When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) invoked rule 19 to rebuke Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and prevent her from speaking further against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to the position of attorney general, he opened the door to some unintended consequences.
In addition to inadvertently writing what has become a feminist battle cry and what could likely serve as Warren’s campaign slogan during the presidential election in 2020, he’s also inspired other congressman to explore opening some old, forgotten rules that haven’t been implemented or even considered in decades.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote a letter to the committee’s chairman demanding that President Trump’s tax returns be submitted to the committee and examined. Using a 1924 tax law that states that Congress can insist upon seeing these documents in order to assess any conflicts of interest, even if the person from whom the documents are demanded is the president of the United States.
In that letter, Pascrell writes:
‘The Founding Fathers were determined to prevent corruption among public officeholders under our Constitution. The emoluments clause prohibits federal officeholders from accepting foreign gifts or emoluments without congressional consent. Their intention was to forbid relationships that might lead to corruption. Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe and lawyer Joshua Matz have written that the meaning of “emoluments” as the framers intended included profits received in a business relationship.
‘President Trump has chosen to keep an ownership stake in his businesses, the scope of which we have no knowledge of as he has refused to disclose his tax returns. We believe that it is imperative for the public to know and understand his 564 financial positions in domestic and foreign companies, and his self-reported net worth of more than $10 billion. We know that state-owned enterprises in China and the United Arab Emirates are involved in his businesses, and that his business ties stretch to India, Turkey, the Philippines, and beyond. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan may also have ties to his businesses. These foreign entities are paying rents, licensing agreement payments, and issuing permits for developments — effectively giving them a tool to influence our new President.
‘None of these potential conflicts can be verified until and unless we have disclosure from President Trump. Every major Presidential candidate since Richard Nixon, with the exception of President Gerald Ford who released a summary of tax data, has released his or her tax returns for public review – until now.
‘The Presidential campaign is over and the fear that a political opponent will try to use tax returns for electoral benefit is passed. President Trump is now governing while also owning a business with international investments. The Constitution faces unprecedented threats due to this arrangement. I believe the powerful Ways and Means Committee has the responsibility to use that power to ensure proper oversight of the executive branch by requesting a review of President Trump’s tax returns and moving towards a formal release of these documents to the public.’
Pascrell also told reporters that he does not intend to let the matter go.
‘If I get a “no” answer on this, I’ll be very honest with you: If these guys think I’m walking away from this, they’re absolutely nuts.’
This may finally be the answer to exposing the con job that Donald Trump began more than eighteen months ago.
Featured image via Getty/Bill Clark