Be Honest Now: Does Anyone Believe The Latest Explanation For Why The Democrats Want The President’s Tax Returns?

I guess it is kind of funny, when you think about it…

On the old Ethics Scoreboard, I had a monthly feature called The David Manning Liar Of The Month Award, “honoring” utterly transparent lies from prominent organizations and people that they obviously didn’t expect anyone to believe. The subpoena issued yesterday by Representative Richard E. Neal (D-Mass) to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Charles P. Rettig, the I.R.S. commissioner would get this month’s award if I was still giving it out.

Quick, now: why do Democrats want the President’s tax returns? Is there any doubt whatsoever? Have they been ambiguous about it in the least? They are convinced, because, as we all know, the Orange Man is BAD, that somewhere in his returns is sufficient evidence of serious wrongdoing—that the IRS never noticed nor flagged, mind you, and that occurred before Donald Trump became President—that they can use to concoct a viable impeachment case, or at least use to embarrass and attack him in the coming election.

For a long time the theory was that the returns would provide decisive evidence that the President was involved in an election-stealing plot with Russia, but since that phony premise was thoroughly exploded, Democrats had to find another excuse. The current theory is that since he refused to reveal the returns during the 2016 campaign, he must have something nefarious to hide. This is the totalitarian’s approach to justice, of course. That the Democratic Party and its supporters so easily resort to it ought to give everyone pause.

So we all know why the Democratic House majority is trying to get the President’s returns. The problem is that Donald Trump has the same right of privacy as every other taxpayer. The fact that he broke with recent tradition by not releasing his returns, if Occam’s Razor means anything to you, is best attributed to the fact that no other Presidential candidate of a major party since income taxes were introduced has been an international businessman, with the extraordinary number of transactions and tax maneuvers such status inevitably requires. Pop Quiz: Did H. Ross Perot, when he was running his third party challenge to Bush and Clinton in 1992, release his tax returns?

No, he did not. Hey, that must mean Perot was in bed with the Russians too!

Now, despite the fact that your Trump-Deranged  friends, relatives and Facebook Borg members claim that Democrats should be able to force the President to hand over his taxes easy-peasy, that’s just not so, as I have repeatedly said here. Democrats originally took a flyer on a nearly-forgotten provision of the federal tax code that was inspired by the Teapot Dome scandal in Harding’s administration. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin  rejected it, as he should have and as I would expect him to. Century-old laws that nobody has tried to use are generally dead-letters that stay on the books until some enterprising lawyer tries it as a Hail Mary pass for a purpose it was never intended for, in a context that the drafters never anticipated. Such laws are almost always kicked by judges into the ash-heap of history where they belong.

It is touching how many Stage 5 Trump haters who  know neither history nor law can be so certain that such a law —tax code provision Section 6103, if you want to look it up—mandates that the President release his taxes. I just had an off-site back and forth with an esteemed—but deranged—Ethics Alarms follower who presented the law as a definitive rebuttal to my assertion that the President is not likely to have to turn over his taxes.

Rep .Neal, however, also determined that Section 6103 is a loser. He wrote in a statement,

“After reviewing the options available to me, and upon the advice of counsel, I issued a subpoena today to the secretary of the Treasury and the commissioner of the I.R.S. for six years of personal and business returns,While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material.”

But as I have also tried to explain to the Trump Deranged, Congress can’t just subpoena documents for the fun of it. It must have a legitimate legislative purpose. Now, guess what Neal says is that purpose, knowing that “We hate this guy, he sickens us, our attempt to prove that he stole the election flopped, so now we’re moving the fishing expedition to his taxes” probably won’t work.

It’s this: The Ways and Means Committee wants to investigate “the extent to which the I.R.S. audits and enforces the federal tax laws against a president.”

A President! Not any particular President, A President. This is just a benign, apolitical inquiry to get a better idea of how the IRS operates. not part of a three year, unethical, destructive, divisive partisan attack on our institutions aimed at removing an elected President without the risky inconvenience of an election! Why President Trump would oppose such a transparent and good faith effort at legitimate tax policy oversight is a mystery!

The best strategy the House Democrats could come up with to pursue the latest impeachment plan involves relying on an obvious lie.

I find it difficult to believe that even the most partisan judge will be inclined to let such an unambiguous lie pass, and I even find it hard to believe that Neal and his colleagues believe it either.  From a legal ethics perspective, I even think a lawyer making such an obviously false representation to a court would be putting his or her license in jeopardy.

18 thoughts on “Be Honest Now: Does Anyone Believe The Latest Explanation For Why The Democrats Want The President’s Tax Returns?

  1. Great idea and I believe him completely! Of course, this study would benefit from a larger sample size. Maybe eight years or so, rather than two. I can’t remember. Is there someone who recently spent eight years as President? And whose tax returns have already been released?
    Surely he wouldn’t mind going under the microscope. It’s for a good cause.

  2. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin rejected it, as he should have and as I would expect him to. Century-old laws that nobody has tried to use are generally dead-letters that stay on the books until some enterprising lawyer tries it as a Hail Mary pass for a purpose it was never intended for, in a context that the drafters never anticipated. Such laws are almost always kicked by judges into the ash-heap of history where they belong.

    In the age of openly-defiant and inventive legal interpretations, it’s a reassuring surprise to find that there are legal traditions still practiced as a norm with this much integrity. The true resistance is larger than I usually think.

    • except we’re not talking about naifs and the gullible. We’re taking about intelliegnt realists that know what’s going on…like you, Phil. You know that official explanation is a lie.

    • Seems to me conflicts of interest would be far more likely with members of Congress who actually create bills that dole out dollars or prevent dollars from being made.

      If we must have the right to look at a president’s return to prevent conflicts of interest we should also have the right to see the returns of people like Tom Steyer who pump millions into campaigns to affect legislation – see we are back to Congress who make the laws. Look at every Congressional campaign and then see which donors seem to be placing the most bets on what candidates and then pull the returns of the candidates and the donors to see if there are conflicts of interest. Why not. If they have nothing to hide they have nothing to fear, right?

      The executive is charged with executing legislative policy and cannot make law. If Congress sees that the executive branch is failing to carry out passed legislation, carrying it out improperly, or trying to spend money not approriated they have all the resources needed to effect change.

      • You have fingered the hypocrisy… and the law of unintended consequences has opened a sleepy eye. Asking of this of POTUS will empower the next GOP chairman to do the same… to his colleagues in Congress, if we ever get one who is not a swamp creature.

        Maybe we can explain how so many congress critters parlay $174k per year into millions with a few short year. Conflict of interest? Maybe we see how Joe Biden’s families are so financially successful in dealings in China?

        Sauce for the goose.

    • Then they should pass a damn law that unambiguously grants them the authority to have that information.

      Seriously, the purpose of oversight is not to look back at what the guy did before he became president. It’s to look at what he’s doing right now. Any other argument is instantly nonsense. This is transparent fishing for an opposition research gold mine. It should be rejected for that reason.

  3. This is a continuing attempt by professional politicians to put a stake in the ground that says, loudly, “No business people can infringe on our turf. If you’ve worked for a living and made money, you can NOT play in our sand box! Buzz the hell off. This is how we make a living.”

    If the Dems file the suit in the Ninth Circuit, they’ll probably get all the way to the Supremes before reason prevails. They might even start by filing in Hawaii.

  4. Quick, now: why do Democrats want the President’s tax returns? Is there any doubt whatsoever? Have they been ambiguous about it in the least? They are convinced, because, as we all know, the Orange Man is BAD, that somewhere in his returns is sufficient evidence of serious wrongdoing—that the IRS never noticed nor flagged, mind you, and that occurred before Donald Trump became President—that they can use to concoct a viable impeachment case, or at least use to embarrass and attack him in the coming election.

    This is only partially true, Jack. What they really think they can get is a gold mine of opposition research — you know, the kind where they get 150 tax experts to write an op-ed that this was a crime, and that was unethical, and the other was high treason.

    All this amounts to is using the subpoena power of the house to provide an opposition research gold mine. They don’t have to prove a crime, all they have to do is point to evidence they can not-incredibly claim is a crime, or moral turpitude, or any one of a dozen other bits of opposition research fodder.

    It’s a sad commentary on how far the Democrat party has fallen, and how utterly deranged they have become.

  5. To revise and extend my remarks: Every business person, and I mean every one, has stuff in their tax returns that is not easy to explain to a layperson, and that can be construed to look unethical, or even illegal. The tax laws are rife with obtuse exceptions and grey areas that sharp tax preparers can exploit to the benefit of their client.

    This is nothing more than an attempt to obtain information via the subpoena power of the house to provide the Democrat Party free opposition research and fodder for political attacks on the president. That’s not just unfair, it’s an illegal purpose for issuing a subpoena, and anyone who believes Neal’s justification is not just naive, but a political idiot.

  6. Facebook blocked me from sharing this article because it violates Facebook “community standards.” I told them they were asses and I wanted to know what standards the article violated. No answer.

  7. Q1: How was it handled when Bill Clinton cheated on his taxes? If you remember, the scandal of Whitewater was the Bill Clinton deducted a lot of money he lost on the Whitewater real estate deal on his taxes, but then it was found he didn’t lose nearly that much…OK, maybe he made money. How was that handled?

    A1: He paid the back taxes without interest or penalty.

    Q2: Are the Democrats going to accept such a solution if they find discrepancies in Trump’s Taxes?

    A2: You know the answer.

  8. I would love to see TRUMP tweet: “Congress might see Barack Obama’s transcripts eventually, before they see my tax returns without committing crimes to see them.”

    Why not? The Congresscritters (D – hell) already think TRUMP is a racist, anyway.

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