The case for treating Trump's tax returns like he treated Obama's birth certificate
“Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family's safety at risk. And for this I'd never forgive him” — Michelle Obama
That’s what Michelle Obama said about Individual 1’s leading role in spreading the racist falsehood known as birtherism: the lie about President Obama’s birthplace that sought to inflame hatred and to ‘other’ the man who, unlike Trump, actually won the presidency with a popular vote majority—twice. As I’ve written elsewhere, Trump managed to go from birther-in-chief to commander-in-chief.
As birther-in-chief, Trump set a standard, if one can call it that, for what passed as truth and fact. It seems appropriate that we apply that same standard to him, now that he is facing questions regarding his tax returns and financial records. These are far more substantive questions deriving from a significantly firmer foundation of evidence than the wild rumors he spewed regarding where Barack Obama was born. You’ve probably heard the old saying about the goose and the gander. Let’s hope the American people eventually get to see those financial documents, and that they thoroughly cook Trump’s goose.
In that spirit, I’d like to repurpose some of the birther remarks made by America’s biggest tax loser, and apply them to his own attempts to prevent the release of his tax returns and other financial records. Let’s see how Trump’s own words make him look.
“Why doesn't he show his financial records? There's something onthose financial records that he doesn't like.”
“He’s spent millions of dollars trying to get away from this issue. Millions of dollars in legal fees trying to get away from this issue … I'm starting to wonder myself whether or not his financial records will show that he’s absolutely a puppet of Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs.”
“There's something on those financial records that is very bad for him. Now, somebody told me—and I have no idea if this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be—that it will show that he’s so under Putin’s thumb that where it says ‘citizenship’ it might as well say ‘Russian.’
And if you're a Russian puppet, you don't change that, by the way.”
“I have people that have been studying Trump’s financial records and they cannot believe what they're finding. I would like to have him show his financial records, and can I be honest with you, I hope he can. Because if he can't, if he can't, if he turns out to be a Russian puppet, or to have committed felony bank fraud by lying in his attempt to get a loan from Deutsche Bank,which is a real possibility … then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.”
"An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that Donald Trump’s financial records will show that he is not only a Russian puppet but that he committed felony bank fraud and belongs in jail."
Such statements, while they were quite satisfying to write and perhaps to read, are not facts, and it would be highly irresponsible to present them as such. Yet that’s exactly what then-reality TV host Donald Trump did in 2011 and 2012 during his birther campaign. That these disgusting statements helped propel him to the Republican presidential nomination—hell, the fact that they didn’t absolutely squash his candidacy before it got started—tells you everything you need to know about the Republican Party and Republican voters.
As for Trump being a Russian puppet, even without regard to the financial or tax records, that much appeared obvious to Hillary Clinton in October 2016. And she said as much to his face during the third and final presidential debate:
“It's pretty clear you won't admit the Russians have engaged in cyber attacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people, that you are willing to spout the Putin line, sign up for his wish list, break up NATO, do whatever he wants to do and that you continue to get help from him because he has a very clear favorite in this race.”
October 19th, 2016 https://t.co/QvmLUklSc1— Josh Marshall (@Josh Marshall)1547310785.0
While we’re on the subject of Russia and the 2016 election, we can apply Trump’s birther standards to his actions on that matter, as well. As the Mueller report documented, Trump engaged in potential obstruction of justice on 10 different occasions. What exactly was he trying to hide? Why didn’t he testify directly as part of the Mueller probe? The truth must be “very bad for” Trump, otherwise why not tell the whole story under oath? Going further, who knows what else Mueller might have discovered if Trump hadn’t obstructed justice and blocked his path?
By Trump’s birther standards—actually by any standards—it’s pretty clear that when it comes to Russia, his election, and the special counsel’s investigation, he has “pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.” That’s true so far, at least. In the end, if our Constitution still functions as it should, Congress will prevail in its push to ensure access to the entire Mueller report, including the underlying evidence, and ensure that it is able to hear from the report’s author in person.
Additionally, if our Constitution continues to operate properly, we are going to get to the truth about The Man Who Lost The Popular Vote and his dirty financial dealings, as well. The law very clearly states that the appropriate congressional committee has the authority to demand Trump’s tax returns. Despite what it has claimed, the White House has no leeway to determine whether such a demand is rightful, or even to question it in any way. This dispute will likely end up in the Supreme Court, and if the Court does not recognize that fact it will only be because five of its members completely ignore the law and the Constitution. There would be no other explanation or grounds on which to take such a position.
On a related front, the presiding judge in another case has fast-tracked the hearing regarding Trump’s challenge of Congress’ subpoena of his financial records from the firm that does accounting for his business. That hearing will take place on Tuesday.
Finally, New York state Democrats appear to be on the verge of providing the Tangerine Palpatine’s state tax returns to appropriate, select congressional committees.
#BREAKING: The New York State Senate just passed my bill to provide state tax information to requesting Congression… https://t.co/xLRXcSE1Nt— Senator Brad Hoylman (@Senator Brad Hoylman)1557336274.0
We already know quite a bit, thanks to sleuthing done by the New York Times that exposed how the Trump family (almost certainly illegally) passed hundreds of millions of dollars from successful dad (Fred) to his monumentally incompetent businessman son (Donald, aka, president of the United States), without which that son would have been exposed decades ago as the fraud he is. The Trumps are very lucky this information was only uncovered after the statute of limitations had expired.
And this week the Times gave us Trump’s federal tax returns from 1985 to 1994, which show not only $1 billion in losses, but, even more absurdly, that in 1990 and 1991 he reported losses twice as large as those of any other individual American. Given all the shenanigans in the returns and the other financial documents we have already seen, the American people—or at least their authorized representatives in Congress, to start with—need to see Trump’s recent tax returns and other financial records.
In the words of the second-most corrupt president in American history, “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.” Richard Nixon famously added: “Well, I’m not a crook.” It turns out, he was not only a crook, but also a liar. And so is Donald Trump. American justice demands that the presidency of the latter end as ignominiously as that of the former.