Democrats Make Forced Presidential Tax Return Release Announcement

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The GOP consistently criticized Hillary Clinton during both of her runs for the presidency for a “lack of transparency,” yet it’s Democrats who are willing to fight for presidential candidates to actually have transparency. Clinton’s tax returns are public and have been released every year during her service to the United States. Trump continues to refuse to release his and lies about why he cannot do so.

That refusal should not be allowed to happen again, just as the presidency of Donald Trump, with a history of emoluments clause violations and foreign business interests, have proven. As House Democrats prepare to become the majority, they have a plan to do something about it.

CNN reports:

‘According to two sources familiar with the discussions, Democrats will include a provision in their new bill that would require presidential nominees to disclose 10 years of tax returns shortly after they become the nominee. Vice presidents would also be required to disclose a decade of returns. The tax returns would then be posted on the Federal Election Commission’s website for public viewing.’

Ethics have become a foreign concept under the Trump administration. Even the acting attorney general is ignoring ethics committees by overseeing the Mueller investigation despite statements that show he’s already made a decision on its legitimacy. Trump’s ethics are virtually non-existent.

‘The provision would be included in H.R. 1, a far-reaching bill that makes sweeping ethics changes as well as lays out Democratic priorities on voting rights and health care. The legislation isn’t expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate or be signed by Trump, also a Republican. However, it will give committees an opportunity to set markers on Democratic priorities in the new Congress.’

One of Trump’s favorite targets, Maxine Waters, will be heading up the House Ways and Means Committee, and she has already promised that Trump’s tax returns should be available to the public and that she intends to ensure they are. What those tax returns may show, and what Trump appears to be trying to hide, is conflicts of interest that should have disqualified him as a candidate long ago.

‘The House Ways and Means Committee had planned to hold a hearing on the tax provision in H.R. 1 at the end of January. However, it could slip into February depending on the outcome of a partial government shutdown that has consumed Washington and left House Democrats spending their early days in the majority negotiating to reopen the government.’

With a Republican-controlled Senate and an unethical president, it’s unlikely the bill will ever pass. However, it’s direct proof that Democrats are not the ones fighting to be non-transparent. The GOP simply doesn’t care, but those who are fighting Trump’s ability to hide his unethical behavior do.

‘While Democrats take a legislative approach, they are fully aware that it isn’t likely to be signed into law. The House Ways and Means Committee is also pursuing another route to obtain Trump’s tax returns. Democrats believe under an obscure IRS rule, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, has the power to obtain the returns from the Treasury Department. Neal has said he plans to ask for them in the new Congress, but when exactly he’d make his move is still under discussion.’

Ten years of Trump’s tax returns, released to the general public, would undo him. Robert Mueller, however, probably already has copies.

Featured image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license