With Russia collusion claims all but off the table as an impeachable offense against President Trump, Democrats have moved on to the next shiny thing. Even then, it’s nothing new. They have begun to chase his ever-elusive tax returns.
In seeking the highest office of the free world, Trump ought to have released his tax returns in 2016, and he ought to do so again in 2020. No one buys his equivocation over auditing, and in a vacuum and an election against someone who’s not Hillary Clinton, voters by default may have supremely cared whether a megalomaniac billionaire spent decades gaming the American tax code.
But to say that the president should do something discretely differs from saying that Congress should make him do it with legislation. It’s a distinction lost on some members of media and the commentariat who are now going after Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, for denouncing as “moronic” Democratic demands that the IRS turn over Trump’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) April 8, 2019
This is actually really simple. The following three things can all be true.
First, Trump’s refusal to reveal his tax returns not only defies important norms but also implies he’s guilty of something, and that should perhaps give voters pause.
Second, Romney has solidly opposed Trump on legal matters — voting, for example, to overturn his national emergency declaration.
Third, Democrats’ demand that the IRS release Trump’s tax returns may very well violate existing law and precedent, preventing Congress from investigating individuals with no legislative purpose.
For what it’s worth, Trump’s legal defense is fairly strong. Although Congress has the theoretical authority to demand tax returns from the Treasury without a rationale, Congress likely lacks the constitutional authority to acquire returns without legislative purpose, as the Supreme Court ruled in Watkins v. United States. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that “there is no congressional power to expose for the sake of exposure,” and unless Democrats can offer a stronger reason than “Orange Man Bad,” demands for his tax returns merely play politics with the law.
Romney’s no hypocrite for recognizing a difference between the law and presidential norms. Every president since Richard Nixon has released his tax returns, and Trump’s refusal to do the same demonstrates a certain lack of care for accountability and transparency. But Congress probably can’t do anything about it, and Romney’s right to call out Democrats for attempting to bring back McCarthyite tactics just to score a cheap political win over the president.
Author: Tiana Lowe
Source: Washingtonexaminer: Romney’s no hypocrite on Trump’s taxes