This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments surrounding investigators’ attempts to procure the tax returns of President Donald Trump, who has consistently refused to release that material to the public despite decades of precedent of the president doing so in the name of clearly sidestepping any financial conflicts of interest. Trump’s team has insisted that attempts at procuring Trump’s tax returns are out of line, but the president is, quite simply, not above the law, as the anti-Trump conservative lawyer George Conway insisted in a recent piece for The Washington Post. Author Timothy L. O’Brien revealed in a subsequent piece for Bloomberg that he, in fact, has seen Trump’s tax returns, and according to the details he raised, it’s imperative that the American public does too.
O’Brien got access to Trump’s tax returns amidst an angry lawsuit that Trump himself filed with the author, who’d written a biography called TrumpNation that estimated the eventual president’s wealth at a sharply lower level than Trump would have liked. Although O’Brien did not reveal specifics, he seemed to suggest that the documents essentially confirmed his own reporting. Trump’s lawsuit against the author was eventually thrown out, so clearly, there wasn’t exactly an overwhelming basis for Trump’s claims about his supposed grand fortune.
‘My lawyers got the returns, and while I can’t disclose specifics, I imagine that Trump is hesitant to release them now because they would reveal how robust his businesses actually are and shine a light on some of his foreign sources of income. Deutsche Bank AG, one of the firms Trump’s lawyers are trying to stifle in their arguments before the Supreme Court, also turned over documents in my case — including its own assessment of Trump’s wealth that pegged his fortune at $788 million in 2004, well below the $3 billion he told them he had at the time.’
It’s important to note — Trump’s brazenly false self-assessments of his financial standing can easily constitute fraud when he employs them in contexts like attempting to procure loans. Congress “says it wants Trump’s tax returns so it can craft legislation modernizing federal ethics and disclosure laws and protecting the 2020 election from foreign interference,” O’Brien notes.
While in office, Trump has frequently been startlingly brazen with his financial conflicts of interest. Just recently, he posted what was essentially an ad for one of his golf courses on Twitter on the occasion of its reopening following the Coronavirus-induced social distancing demands. O’Brien points out that the post raises questions about what exactly has motivated Trump’s mad dash to reopen the economy, no matter dire warnings from public health professionals about the Coronavirus being allowed to spread unchecked. Has Trump just been trying to protect his own businesses?
Whenever he has faced the slightest scrutiny, Trump has ordinarily freaked out. The question of how his financial conflicts of interest may have weighed on his Coronavirus response will likely emerge amidst efforts to investigate the situation after the virus passes. For now, the U.S. is continuing to grapple with tens of thousands of new Coronavirus cases each and every day and thousands of deaths on most of those days.