January 29, 2023

NEED TO KNOW: Why Trump’s taxes need to be made public immediately

NEED TO KNOW: Why Trump's taxes need to be made public immediately

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Let’s not hem and haw. Trump is a danger to the country and his tax returns are of legitimate public interest.


The Democratic-led Ways and Means Committee is hoping to receive Trump’s taxes for the years 2013-2018 sometime next week.

Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), who is on the committee, has been continually pushing to make the tax returns public, yet other members are yet to definitively state that they would do so.

So far, the Dems seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach to Trump’s taxes.

If Ways and Means ultimately decides to make the documents (or part of the documents) public, it could do so by forwarding it on to the entire House for a vote, which the Dems still temporarily control.

This is a bit of a tricky matter.

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The basis for the entire action is a 1924 federal law that permits certain committees – Ways and Means in the House, the Senate Committee on Finance, and the Joint Committee on Taxation – to request tax records on any individual for a “legitimate legislative purpose.”

Trump’s lawyers and Republican Party leaders have been arguing that there is no legitimate purpose to disclosing trump’s taxes, but they officially lost that argument when the Supreme Court refused to intercede in the matter on Tuesday, upholding the ruling against Trump from the US Court of Appeals for DC and paving the way for Congress to get his taxes.

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Privacy protections prevent Ways and Means and the other committees (who can now receive the returns as well) from making them public immediately.

Committee member Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) explained it to CNN’s Erin Burnett:

“There certainly is the alternative of making these documents public, and the time pressure here [with Republicans set to take over on January 3] creates an added reason to consider doing that…we can forward those tax returns to the House and the House can act on this and it would have the effect of making it public and then they could be reviewed with more care.”

And if there is any person in the world who is knowledgeable in parliamentary procedure and adept at striking at Donald Trump and the Republicans, it’s certainly Nancy Pelosi, the outgoing speaker, who might consider such an act an appropriate coup de grâce – another nail in Trump’s political coffin.

Yet she may have her hands full trying to prevent the GOP from using the debt ceiling to threaten the global economy again.

Ways and Means members can also decide to issue a report, which could make some of the information in the returns public.

Short of a leak, these are likely the only ways we’ll get to see them.

Doggett said that the committee will decide how to proceed after they get the returns.

Because they’re likely to be rather complex, he suggested staff will have to work through weekends and holidays to get everything done.

Here are five reasons they should look to go public as quickly as possible:

1. Time is of the essence.

As Doggett noted, once the Republicans come in, the curtain comes down.

For this reason, Dems should reveal what they can as soon as they can.

2. The Republicans are going to spend the next two years distracting the US electorate with every type of investigation imaginable.

Dems need to get the Trump story out before Republicans drown it.

3. Not doing it won’t stop Republicans from doing the nefarious things they’re intent on doing anyhow.

Dems tend to fear “If we do this, think what the Republicans might do!” but Kevin McCarthy, likely the next speaker, doesn’t have much in the way of standards anyhow.

He’s going to do whatever the heck he feels like.

2. The public should know if a president is violating the Emoluments Clause.

Any candidate’s conflicts of interest should be laid bare before the electorate.

1. Trump remains an incredible danger.

This, of course, is the most potent reason.

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Although we’ve seen Republicans moving away from Trump and embracing DeSantis or possibly others, he is still the biggest threat to our quasi-democracy that exists right now, and someone willing to engage in violent tactics.

While the public should have the right to choose the leaders it prefers, we should know who we’re choosing.

Shed light on Trump, and perhaps we’ll see his orange skin begin to crimple.

Help me expose the Orange Demon and his Republican lackies by joining me on Twitter. @RossRosenfeld

Ross Rosenfeld

is a news analysis and opinion writer whose work has also appeared in the New York Daily News and Newsweek. He lives in New York.

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