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Holy Collusion Grail — House Democrats subpoena Trump tax returns from Treasury

Holy Collusion Grail — House Democrats subpoena Trump tax returns from Treasury

For what purpose?

On a scale of 1 – “I’m not desperate, you’re desperate! ::nervous laugh::”, Democrats standing somewhere between “shoot ourselves in the foot twice and try to make an issue of something no one cares about” and “this is literally all the eggs we own right here in this shoddy little basket.”

Friday, the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee issued a subpoena to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig demanding Trump’s tax returns.

Mind you, Trump didn’t release his tax returns prior to the 2016 election, no one seemed to care (no one cares now), and he won. Surely, Democrats know this is going to turn into a lengthy court battle that’s only going to further damage their public image. Or maybe they don’t.

From Politico:

…Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who is spearheading the effort, delivered formal demands for the filings to both Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig.

Neal is giving them until 5pm next Friday to comply.

“While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material,” he said in a statement. “I sincerely hope that the Treasury Department will furnish the requested material in the next week so the committee can quickly begin its work.”

The move comes as the administration is defying subpoenas from other Democrats investigating the executive branch, with lawmakers now in the process of holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for rejecting their demand for an unredacted version of Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

If, as is widely expected, the administration reject’s Neal’s subpoena as well, the next step for Democrats would likely be to sue for Trump’s confidential filings in court.

…Taking the subpoena route is likely to be more time-consuming, but it could help buttress a court case. At minimum, it would show a judge that Democrats tried other means of getting the information from the administration before turning to the court system.

Neal’s announcement came after Mnuchin on Monday formally rejected the Massachusetts Democrat’s request for the tax documents under an arcane law allowing the heads of Congress’ tax committees to examine anyone’s tax returns. Democrats could then vote to make some or all of Trump’s filings publicly available.

Mnuchin said Democrats don’t have a “legitimate” reason for seeking the returns.

Pretty much what Mnuchin said. Why do they want the tax returns? What do they think (or pretend) it will prove? What damning evidence do they hope to find?

Because none of this is being done in earnest, there are no answers to those questions, just an attempt to create a wedge issue that no one cares about and pretend that a president who can’t keep his mouth shut about anything isn’t transparent.

Back to Politico:

In a letter to Neal on Friday morning, Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas), the top Ways and Means Republican, accused Democrats of mounting a “coordinated attempt to weaponize the tax code and use Congress’ legitimate oversight authority for political gain.”

A court would have to determine whether the legitimate reason standard applies here and, if so, whether Democrats meet it. A judge might also consider other concerns like if forcing the administration’s hand would have broader implications for executive power, congressional oversight or taxpayers’ right to privacy.

It would not be unusual, some experts say, if a judge was reluctant to get involved in such a politically charged case and instead pushed the two sides to compromise.

Must suck to be headed into election season with an empty arsenal and crappy poll numbers, but Democrats only have themselves to blame.

All Democrats have to do is not be crazy, fringe lunatics to mount a decent offense, and they can’t even do that.


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My step-daughter voted for Hillary last election. She is an expert on China.

Based on Trump’s handling of China, she is now going to vote to re-elect him in 2020. I would imagine the number of Americans making also this decision is….vast.

The Dems are desperately trying to open every box they can to deflect from the Hell that Barr is preparing for them.

    MattMusson in reply to CDR D. | May 11, 2019 at 6:52 am

    The Dems knew there was no Russian Collusion. But, they engineered the entire investigation because they believed they would find lots of dirt. They even raided Trump’s lawyer looking for dirt ignoring the Client Confidentiality issues. They spent over $30 million taxpayer dollars looking for dirt. And, they did not find anything significant enough to turn Americans against Trump.

    Looking through his Tax Returns is just another big Democrat fishing expedition.

Do not get sidetracked. There is NOTHING in Trump’s tax returns which can harm him. If there was, it would have been leaked 2 years ago. Treasury is part of the Deep State, after all. The Dems KNOW there is no there, there.

The purpose of all of these demands is to allow the Dems to claim that the Trump Administration is obstructing the Congress in its authorized activities. They do not really have any need or even any real desire for Trump’s returns. What they want is for Trump officials to refuse to satisfy their gratuitous requests. Then they can threaten those administrators with contempt of Congress to discredit them in order to discredit Trump.

It is simply weaponizing the Congressional subpoena process to attack their enemies. The Civil War inches closer.

    Minor quibble: There is nothing in Trump’s tax returns which can LEGITIMATELY be used against him, or the IRS would have clobbered him on it during the reign of the previous administration, who used the IRS like a pinata club.

    I have no doubt there are hundreds of nagging little entries that can be hyperventilated at by the press (because if Congress gets them, the press will have them five minutes later) and blown into exaggerated headlines that *imply* horrible, terrible, awful things that in reality are just tax code things. Like taking a deduction for something trivial, or donating money to an Organization We Hate And You Should Too Or Else.

      Mac45 in reply to georgfelis. | May 10, 2019 at 9:13 pm

      Naw. People simply don’t care about tax returns. Why? Because anybody can take advantage of the benefits written into the tax code. Your average family taxpayer is very familiar with the tax code. It is only politicians who think that the “little” people are stupid. So, if Trump saved taxes by taking advantage of legitimate deductions and accounting procedures, they really do not care. After all, they are doing the same thing. What does irk US taxpayers, is when a company, like Amazon, can post a NET profit of nearly $5 BILLION dollars and yet pay NO taxes. They can understand how a person or company can avoid paying any taxes by breaking even or losing money over a year. But, not how a company can show a profit and not pay any taxes at all.

      As for the media cherry picking items out of his tax returns to tout them as evidence of some kind of bad behavior, again, nobody cares. People care about THEIR tax liability, not that of other people.

        clintack in reply to Mac45. | May 11, 2019 at 4:47 am

        You’re right about what irks taxpayers — but that’s why Trump’s returns aren’t actually a nothing *politically*, even though he’s done nothing wrong.

        Imagine that there’s a year in the ’80’s where he took huge losses, and then carried those forward — exactly as he’s supposed to.

        The result would be that while he built his businesses back up, he had several years where he had solid profits, and paid no taxes — because he had carry-forward losses exceeding his income.

        So, the Dems will scream and yell and make political hay out of years in which Donald Trump made more than all but the top 1% of the 1% of Americans and paid $0 in incomes taxes.

        And it will be good enough to sway a few % of voters in the middle.

          Mac45 in reply to clintack. | May 11, 2019 at 11:49 am

          Thanks to the NYT, we already know that to be true. Again, nobody cares. Whether Trump took advantage of income averaging, something which many, many people including myself have done in the past, people are not going to care. Trump’s tax returns are not going to sway anyone who is not solidly anti-Trump.

          Also, people do not report questionable income on their tax returns. So, nothing of that type would show up. And, you are not required to itemize the source of all reported income. All that being able to look at the complete tax return is is financial voyeurism.

          Actually, the tax return nonsense is going to end up harming the Dems, not Trump. Currently, politicians have to file financial disclosures every single year, in which they are in office. And, these disclosures are rather detailed. Demanding to see their tax returns, going back to the dawn of time, is nothing more than harassment. Then, there are the rest of us. Do we want a member of Congress, or a state legislature, looking at our tax returns because we are dating the legislator’s daughter or going into business with a friend or relative or because we are in a dispute with a neighbor or just because they want to? Of course not. Tax information is protected by law for a reason. And, the Congressional exception to the privacy laws was supposed to be for the purpose of pursuing reasonable, authorized oversight functions, not to provide fodder against one’s political enemies. What bono fide oversight function is being conducted here? And, where will it stop? Will the Congress demand the tax returns from Trump’s business suppliers? How about his barber? Off-shore businesses with whom Trump’s companies have done business?

          NSA spying, FBI/CIA spying, IRS spying, tech giant and social media spying, all on US citizens, is now in the forefront of the news. And more revelations are coming out all the time. People are concerned about their privacy. While the get Trump faction will remain unconcerned about this, the rest of the citizenry is becoming more concerned by the day.

    murkyv in reply to Mac45. | May 10, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    Especially now that we know what we know about the last administration, I’m even more convinced that Trumps tax returns were pulled shortly after he questioned Little Barry Soetoros birth certificate

    It fits with Obamas playbook from the Chicago days and everything he did while in the WH.

The D’rats don’t want this stuff. All they’ll find from it (if they get it, which they won’t) is what they got from Mueller—solid evidence that DJT is the cleanest man in Washington.

But as long as they don’t get it they can play the old “What is the President hiding?” game.

They won’t get Mueller to testify, for similar reasons. He won’t do it, because any scenario which involves the House D’rats tossing him softballs also involves House Repubs roasting him on a spit. So, like a sensible creature, he’ll stay away. Then the D’rats can play their game some more; obviously Barr or Trump or—even better—both of them, are colluding to silence Mueller. Hot damn, more “obstruction”!

Massive overreach goeth before the fall.

Those returns will be leaked to the WaPo next week. The Democrats can get them then…

Paul In Sweden | May 10, 2019 at 8:38 pm

“shoot ourselves in the foot twice and try to make an issue of something no one cares about”

smh… “shoot ourselves in the foot”, yeah, and then they would blame the NRA, Trump & ppl that wear MAGA hats and be off for a week of demonstrations for gun control…

The Democrats’ stated legislative purpose is to understand how the IRS administers its presidential audit program. Have Obama’s, 43’s, and Bill Clinton’s presidential returns been subpoenaed? The committee wants returns before Trump was elected, which runs counter to their announced purpose. Have Hillary Clinton’s returns been subpoenaed, or the pre-election returns of the aforementioned presidents? Or the Clinton Foundation’s returns? The legislative purpose is belied if only Trump’s returns are sought. But we knew that, of course.

It’s May 10, where is the IG report? When is Trump going to start to declassify Fast and Furious, Benghazi and other fascist programs?

    MarkS in reply to 4fun. | May 11, 2019 at 6:30 am

    Never! Barr is doing nothing and really won’t prosecute his first name friends and former colleagues

This isn’t about tax returns or Trump Jr’s testimony, it’s about the news cycle and keeping the witch hunt alive until the election and running Trump’s backers out of money with rampant lawyer fees.

The Dems and Republicans, in a bipartisan fashion, will subpoena somebody from the Trump camp every month or so (like Trump Jr) just to run up the lawyer fees and to ensure working with Trump is the worst possible experience one can ever encounter.

And it’s all legal and there is nothing anybody can do about it.

Mnuchin said Democrats don’t have a “legitimate” reason for seeking the returns.

Pretty much what Mnuchin said. Why do they want the tax returns? What do they think (or pretend) it will prove? What damning evidence do they hope to find?

The thing is the statute says explicitly that the chairman of the Ways & Means Committee can see any tax return he likes. It doesn’t say he has to have a reason, let alone a good one. I don’t see how Mnuchin has a leg to stand on on this one.

Which doesn’t mean I think he should give in. At this point the Dems have trampled the law so hard that I no longer care if Mnuchin breaks it too. I mean, at the very same time as they’re standing on the law here, they’re demanding that Barr break the law by giving them grand jury testimony, and holding him in contempt for refusing. Cognitive dissonance, much?

A court would have to determine whether the legitimate reason standard applies here and, if so, whether Democrats meet it. A judge might also consider other concerns like if forcing the administration’s hand would have broader implications for executive power, congressional oversight or taxpayers’ right to privacy.

I don’t see how any of that is relevant. The only thing making tax returns private is the statute, and that very statute says the chairman of Ways & Means is an exception, and has free rein to snoop on anyone he likes. Where is the wiggle room for a judge to impose conditions?