Donald Trump is going to the mat over his tax returns. What could be in them that has caused the president to react so strongly to demands to release them? Pundits speculate that they could be a dynamic documents of possible money laundering, contributions from unfriendly foreign entities, or even proof that a rich man is not a billionaire. Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made a huge mistake about 45’s returns just now.
Mulvaney appeared on Sunday talk shows saying that POTUS will never give his returns to the Democrats. Last week the House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal formally requested Trump’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). There are only two committees that can do so. The request included “shall,” meaning that the IRS had no choice.
The chief of staff appeared on Fox News Sunday with substitute Bill Hemmer. Mulvaney appeared confident that Trump was on secure legal footing:
‘(T)HEY ARE NOT GOING TO GET THESE TAXES.’
Hemmer asked Mulvaney:
‘TO BE CLEAR, YOU BELIEVE DEMOCRATS WILL NEVER SEE THE PRESIDENT’S TAX RETURNS?’
Then, Mulvaney shot his boss in the foot as he added:
‘NEVER NOR SHOULD THEY. KEEP IN MIND, THAT WAS AN ISSUE THAT WAS ALREADY LITIGATED DURING THE ELECTION. VOTERS KNOW THE PRESIDENT COULD HAVE GIVEN HIS TAX RETURNS, THEY KNEW THAT HE DIDN’T, AND THEY ELECTED HIM ANYWAY, WHICH IS OF COURSE WHAT DRIVES THE DEMOCRATS CRAZY.’
Trump continually promised that he would release his returns during his 2016 presidential campaign — as soon as they were out of audit. Hemmer went up against Mueller and Trump’s claim:
‘THE PRESIDENT ARGUES THAT HE’S UNDER AUDIT, HAS SAID THAT FOR A COUPLE YEARS, BUT EVEN UNDER AUDIT, LEGALLY, YOU COULD ALLOW PEOPLE TO SEE IT.’
Mulvaney agreed with Hemmer and in doing so, he disagreed with Trump:
‘YOU COULD ALWAYS ALLOW PEOPLE TO SEE IT. BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT’S HAPPENING. THE DEMOCRATS ARE DEMANDING THE IRS TURN OVER THE DOCUMENTS, AND THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, AND THEY KNOW IT.’
In the middle of all the drama, Mulvaney said, according to Reuters:
‘NEVER. NOR SHOULD THEY. DEMOCRATS ARE DEMANDING THAT THE IRS TURN OVER THE DOCUMENTS. THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, AND THEY KNOW IT. THIS IS A POLITICAL STUNT.’
The Democrats had a powerful argument. They noted that Neal’s request to the Treasury Department for the returns was grounded in law. This was especially important, because Trump refused to sell his businesses or put them into a blind trust. Instead, he turned his businesses over to his two elder sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, to run.
Tax committee member Dan Kildee told ABC’s This Week hosted by George Stephanopoulos:
‘THIS IS A LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY THAT THE CONGRESS HAS. THIS PRESIDENT, BY THE WAY, IS THE LEAST TRANSPARENT PRESIDENT THAT WE’VE HAD IN HALF A CENTURY.’
‘IT IS NOT UP TO PRESIDENT TRUMP, IT IS NOT UP TO SOME LAWYER THAT PRESIDENT TRUMP HIRES, TO DETERMINE WHETHER (TRUMP’S RETURNS CAN BE REQUESTED). THIS IS NOT AN AUTOCRACY. THE PRESIDENT DOES NOT GET TO DECIDE FOR HIMSELF AND FOR CONGRESS WHAT A LEGITIMATE SUBJECT OF INQUIRY MIGHT BE.’