Someone take me to school please.
One of the most troubling aspects of the pending inauguration of President Elect Trump is the fact that he is succeeding in stone walling ethics rules that have traditionally required office holders to provide financial disclosures. He is simply not going to do this, and our representatives in Congress are appearing to let him. This prompts a question I would love someone at Kos to answer. What tools are available through Congress or the Supreme Court to compel compliance. I’ll cue up some possibilities and would love to see if any of them are valid possibilities:
The IRS has received copies of all the relevant tax filings and supporting schedules. I assume the agency is barred from releasing anyones tax filings. That said, they apparently are auditing trumps taxes and so the data collection side of this is already underway. Is there a way for the IRS to release the information to the appropriate entity if the audit reveals ethical breaches sufficient to violate the law?
The Courts have been used very effectively by Republicans to force issues despite broad public opposition. Is it time for progressive activists to start filing lawsuits claiming harm caused by Trump’s ethical lapses? In recent years, the issue of who has standing on a given issue has been so manipulated (se Hobby Lobby et.al.) that major decisions have resulted from people with the slightest of grounds for standing. Find someone in a friendly appellate district with a flimsy claim and start you lawyers.
The Congress.: Hahahahahahahaha, sorry that ain’t going to happen. However, there are a sufficient number of Democrats and independents in congress to apply relentless pressure. Bring it up at every hearing, use secret holds, filibuster and most of all expose. I fully expect a line item in the next Treasury Appropriations Bill prohibiting the IRS from auditing a sitting president. I fully expect bills to be introduced rolling back ethics reforms enacted in the wake of Watergate and during the first Bush administration. I am cynical enough to think that Trump ran in the first place to protect his empire from collapsing. I believe in my heart that he and his enablers in the Congress will work together to save him from his own bad actions.
Hactivism: I don’t endorse breaking the law. However, if Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden were willing to take that risk , then maybe someone in the IRS loves their country enough to risk jail time or exile to release this information. What firm prepared the returns and how secure are their communications? Who represents him during the audit and how good is their IT department. Trump rose to power in part because of wiki-leaks and clearly partisan people at the FBI. It would be a delicious irony if this mode were to take him down.
There is a limited number of reasons that Trump is not releasing his tax returns. Maybe it is to protect his fragile ego and he really is not that rich. I betting that it is because to amass a fortune he had to cheat, cut corners, take money from shady people — perhaps even make a deal with Putin. This last has national security ramifications. We must do everything we can to prevent this from being swept under the rug.
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