Friday, April 05, 2019

Neal's request for Trump's tax returns

Here is what I told a reporter about this issue:

This is not an issue on which there is any possibility of reasonable disagreement. Any well-informed person who disagrees either that the Ways and Means Committee has an obligation to demand Trump's tax returns as part of fulfilling its oversight duties, or that he is legally obliged to turn them over, is self-exposed as a partisan hack who has contempt for the rule of law.

Trump has credibly been accused of engaging in criminal activity for decades. It's undisputed that he is still profiting from his businesses. There is substantial information in the public record suggesting that he is for sale (or subject to blackmail) and that many of his public policy decisions have been made for corrupt reasons. The tax returns may help to provide information that sheds light on his motives and incentives. It's an indispensable part of Congressional oversight, and Republicans as well as Democrats in the Congress ought to recognize this (and in private probably do, whether or not they care).

All this is even leaving aside the law that would be quite clear in favor of the request even if all of the above evidence of criminality, corruption, and improper motives were not so powerful.

It's perfectly obvious that business tax returns as well as individual ones are a necessary part of the oversight here. I don't know why the particular ones were selected, and I would think that casting the net far more broadly (e.g., all Trump businesses, and all tax returns for the last 20 years) would have been well within reasonable oversight.

Any judge who votes or rules against this request does not belong on the federal courts. Such a judge would conclusively show that he or she cares more about partisan advantage than about transparency, honest government, and the rule of law.

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