Do you remember when Rachel Maddow thought she had Trump over a barrel because she had a copy of his tax return? It was nothing but a one page 1040 like people who make less than $30,000 a year use, except the numbers were very high.
Someone had placed the thing in her inbox at MSNBC and she thought she had a real zinger on her hands. She opened it up and read out the numbers only to report that Trump had paid more in taxes than any other well-known billionaire- more than the head of the federal reserve, more than Warren Buffet.
To be fair, that was not Trump’s real tax return. There’s no way on Earth that Donald Trump uses a single page 1040 to file his taxes. We think it’s pretty clear that Trump somehow planted that 1040 so that Maddow would embarrass herself.
He played them, just like he plays them every day of his presidency.
Maddow was so eager and so sure it would sink him that she ran with it. You could almost see the blood draining from her face as she realized she was making an ass out of herself.
Well, two years later the left is looking for something to nail trump with. Now that the Mueller witch hunt has proven to be a total flop, they’re scrambling for ammunition. So, we’re back on the taxes thing.
They want to see his taxes. With his usual firmness and aplomb, Trump is standing his ground and telling his political opponents that he has no intention of submitting his tax returns to their scrutiny until he is ready to do so, if at all.
Of course, it has become somewhat of a norm for presidents and presidential candidates to release their tax returns. But this is purely done for PR purposes. The President of the United States is under no legal obligation to do so. Not being one to cave to pressure or blindly follow convention, President Trump is telling them in no uncertain terms that the law is on his side.
On Friday morning, The Hill published a tweet quoting the President saying, “From what I understand, the law is 100% on my side,” in reference to Democrats insisting on seeing his returns.
Last week, Richard Neal (D-MA), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee filed a formal request with the treasury for President Trump’s tax returns going back six years. This has placed the Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin in a situation to which he must respond.
According to Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, this places Mnuchin under considerable pressure. During his testimony before Congress, Rosenthal said, “[Neal’s] request tests Mnuchin’s oath of office: whether Mnuchin will faithfully execute the laws of the United States, or whether Mnuchin will bend to the will of the President.”
Trump was asked the following day whether or not he would instruct the IRS to keep his returns confidential. He replied, “They’ll speak to my lawyers and they’ll speak to the attorney general.”
Kevin Brady (R-Texas), and Senator Chuck Grassley have voiced their opposition to this new line of attack on the President. Brady said, “Weaponizing our nation’s tax code by targeting political foes sets a dangerous precedent and weakens Americans’ privacy rights. As you know, by law, all Americans have a fundamental right to the privacy of the personal information found in their tax returns.”
In their article on the subject, The Hill wrote, “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Thursday that courts have ruled that congressional requests for information need to have legitimate legislative purposes, and Democrats have fallen short on that front.”
Surprisingly, Senator Lindsey Graham said that he believes Trump should release his taxes if he is running for President in 2020. This is, of course, a statement of opinion and not a fact of the law.
Mnuchin said that he would follow the law and protect the President’s right as an American citizen to keep his private tax returns private. He said. “I intend to follow the law and we will protect the president as we would protect any individual taxpayer under their rights.”
While Democrats posture as if Trump has no legal right to withhold his tax returns, the fact is that without some kind of probable cause or other pressing reason- there is no law or legal precedent that allows them to force Trump or the IRS to release his tax returns.