Abbreviated pundit roundup: The public needs to see Trump's tax returns


The president’s tax returns, promised to be released during his campaign and under seemingly perpetual audit, are a vital piece of information that the American public needs to have, especially before the 2020 election. There is no question that the president’s business entanglements (yes, the same ones he promised to give up) continue to raise series issues touching on the Emoluments Clause, conflicts of interest and more. We begin today’s roundup with William Saletan at Slate:

Candidates for president should release their taxes regardless of public opinion, because every voter has the right to know whether the country’s most powerful officeholder has financial conflicts of interest. Trump’s vast holdings and his shady business history make that concern all the more apt. But for now, let’s stick to a simpler question: Is it true that voters gave Trump a mandate to hide his tax returns? No, it’s false. Every poll shows that Americans think he should release his returns—and that if he doesn’t, Congress should pry the returns from him.

Matthew Yglesias at Vox explains why the timing of Judge Maryanne Trump Barry’s retirement is such a big deal:

The key is that last fall, the New York Times published a bombshell investigation of Donald and Maryanne Trump’s father Fred Trump’s finances that appeared to reveal, among other things, that he illegally evaded taxes in transferring much of his wealth to his children — including both Donald and Maryanne. [...] Now, according to Russ Buettner and Susan Craig of the New York Times, Barry has retired, which renders the [judicial ethics] investigation moot. Their reporting indicates that this all actually happened in February. The complaint was filed in October, and then on February 1, a court official notified the people who filed the complaint that it was “receiving the full attention” of investigators. Ten days later, Barry filed her paperwork to resign.

And it certainly raises questions of whether she and her brother might have something to hide.

Fred Trump evidently managed to slip these shenanigans past the investigators at the IRS, and in more recent years, the IRS enforcement budget has been cut to the bone. It makes a lot of sense for a wealthy and unscrupulous person to take a calculated risk and just break the rules. But if those returns were to be disclosed today, they would obviously attract a ton of attention from the media and various outside experts, and Maryanne Trump wouldn’t be able to avoid accountability by quietly retiring.

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