Donald Trump’s rise to power has been marked by circumstances sparking longstanding and broad allegations of corruption. For instance, among the issues is the fact that the president, when assuming his present office, chose to not fully divest from his businesses. Instead, he kept his financial stakes in his businesses and simply ceded executive control of them to interests including his two adult sons, Donald Jr. and Eric.
This set-up means that the president maintains a financial stake in interests like the Trump hotel in D.C., which stands, thanks in large part to its location, to be used by political and social interests aiming to gain favor with the commander-in-chief.
In addition to these issues, the president has never released his tax returns, bucking a decades-long precedent in failing to do so. If his tax returns were released, then the public might be able to fully scrutinize the financial ties potentially entangling our nation’s chief executive. Instead, we are just left to speculate about what financial considerations our leader has in mind when making policy decisions.
Now, as an attempt to address this issue, a bill is advancing through the Maryland state senate that would require presidential (and vice presidential) candidates to release their tax returns for the past five years in order to get on the ballot in the state. Bloomberg notes that Maryland’s governor, the Republican Larry Hogan, has not made his position on the bill known. It’s worth noting, however, that similar bills in both California and New Jersey have been vetoed.
The president has made indications in the past that he intended to eventually release his tax returns, but he has never done so. His original excuse for not doing so was that he was under audit by the IRS and was thus obliged to keep his tax returns private, and then after being elected, he resorted to the excuse of that his tax returns are not relevant.
The tax returns are, in fact, relevant because of the fact that they would allow the public to scrutinize the president’s financial ties, including those which may tie him to foreign powers. He’s spent decades running an often legally questionable real estate operation and accumulated many such seeming and potential ties in the process.
The closest we came to getting a look at tax returns from Trump was the time that Rachel Maddow reported upon a small portion of Trump’s tax returns from many years ago.
In addition to that, we have also gotten indications that the president has gotten massive tax breaks through questionable means, such as turning over the interior of his infamous Florida Mar-a-Lago resort to a historical trust in exchange for being allowed to develop the property by the city.
Adding to the cloud surrounding the president is the fact that he so often acts as though he is, quite literally, guilty of some crime.
Instead of going along with the Russia investigation with a straight face, for instance, it’s an old story at this point that he thinks that the investigation is a “witch hunt.” Sure, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has already brought charges against, besides others, four former associates of the president, but in Trump’s world, it’s still all a witch hunt.
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