Patterico's Pontifications

7/24/2019

President Trump Sues To Prevent Obtainment of His Tax Records

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:06 am



[guest post by Dana]

I posted earlier this month about Gov. Cuomo signing a bill that would allow to congressional committees to access the president’s state tax returns: “The bill requires state tax officials to release the president’s state returns for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose” on the request of the chair of one of three congressional committees: the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation.”

Unsurprisingly, President Trump is suing the state over the tax return law, calling it “political retribution”:

“We have filed a lawsuit today in our ongoing efforts to end presidential harassment. The targeting of the president by the House Ways and Means Committee, the New York Attorney General, and a New York tax official violates Article 1 of the US Constitution,” Jay Sekulow, counsel to the president, said in a statement. “The harassment tactics lack a legitimate legislative purpose. The actions taken by the House and New York officials are nothing more than political retribution.”

The state of New York plans to fight this lawsuit:

“President Trump has spent his career hiding behind lawsuits, but, as New York’s chief law enforcement officer, I can assure him that no one is above the law — not even the president of the United States,” Attorney General Letitia James said. “The TRUST Act will shine a light on the president’s finances and finally offer transparency to millions of Americans yearning to know the truth. We have all the confidence that this law is legal and we will vigorously defend it against any court challenge.”

Some are questioning the state’s pursuit of Trump’s tax returns:

What legitimate legislative or law enforcement purpose is served by demanding the release of the President’s tax returns, either federal or state? Congress is charged with providing oversight, but that doesn’t include going on politically driven fishing expeditions.

While it’s true that most presidents and presidential candidates release at least some of their returns voluntarily, it’s never been mandatory. And our tax laws are set up in such a way as to take great pains to keep everyone’s returns private except under extraordinary circumstances. If the citizens of the nation truly think it’s a terrible thing for a presidential candidate not to voluntarily disclose their returns, the remedy is to not vote for them or vote them out at the next election.

So what specific crime does the committee believe has taken place and how would Donald Trump’s tax returns help resolve the situation? All we’ve heard thus far is some vague references to the emoluments clause, but for a person who owns a chain of international hotels, that’s a ridiculous charge since it couldn’t possibly be avoided.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)

–Dana

19 Responses to “President Trump Sues To Prevent Obtainment of His Tax Records”

  1. Good morning.

    Dana (bb0678)

  2. He’s suing in his private capacity which means he’s hired his own private lawyers. 5-1 he loses.

    nk (dbc370)

  3. “Some are questioning…”? Some? Lets see:

    NY city’s power went out; people toss tossing water and buckets on NY cops; the city subways are experiencing major outages; DeBlasio is spending NY into a 1970’s default, while off campaigning for president; but NY state has time to chase the President’s tax returns.

    And California! Feds raid LA City Hall; there was that small matter of a typhus outbreak; debt problems loom; roads and schools…; LA Times was caught so flat-footed by the City Hall raid (“here’s another article on Trump being a mean man–what raid?”), it could only provide “press release coverage” of it. SF is poop and needle city: But California too chases Trump.

    Some?

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (6b1442)

  4. nk, if he sued in his capacity as the president and used government lawyers, people would lose their minds about him using government lawyers on the taxpayer’s dime.

    aerinyes (bb1ce2)

  5. It was not a comment on whether he should hire his own lawyers. You are absolutely correct that he must. It was a comment that he tends to hire really, really sh!tty lawyers.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. I would think New York state is free to treat New York state tax records however the legislature and governor together (or legislature alone if a veto can be overridden) wish. Even if it were something completely discriminatory (say publicly releasing the tax returns of all registered republicans). If something that outrageous would pass legal muster I don’t see this case taking any time to dispose of.

    Privacy is a recognition of a norm not any sort of command.

    Soronel Haetir (e15932)

  7. I dunno. If some goombah promises me that he will treat my financial information confidentially when I send it to him along with my money, I don’t think he should be able to retroactively renege on his promise ex post facto, nunc pro tunc, and ilegitimi non corburundum. Prospectively, yes, and I can then decide whether I want to live or do business in and thereby owe taxes to his goombah state.

    nk (dbc370)

  8. Jazz Shaw at Hot Air (link in the post):

     All we’ve heard thus far is some vague references to the emoluments clause, but for a person who owns a chain of international hotels, that’s a ridiculous charge since it couldn’t possibly be avoided.

    This mystifies me. Is Jazz Shaw implying that owning hotels makes it impossible to avoid emolument clause issues, so we shouldn’t care? There is nothing that requires that Presidents own hotels, but the Emolument Clause is in the Constitution. It isn’t going away.

    DRJ (15874d)

  9. There are many exceptions to confidentiality that authorize disclosure of tax returns, including requests by Congressional committees and this:

    26 USC 6103 (f)(5) Disclosure by whistleblower

    Any person who otherwise has or had access to any return or return information under this section may disclose such return or return information to a committee referred to in paragraph (1) or any individual authorized to receive or inspect information under paragraph (4)(A) if such person believes such return or return information may relate to possible misconduct, maladministration, or taxpayer abuse.

    DRJ (15874d)

  10. The issue is not really owning hotels, but being involved in an ongoing business–which Trump seemingly is, despite officially handing over day to day control to his kids.
    If (to use a really simplistic example) I own a construction company that operates in Arizona and gets supplies from Canada and Mexico, how will that impact my decisions that relate in any way to Arizona, Canada and Mexico (don’t want to get suppliers and customers angry!) and to the construction company in general (after all, what helps/hurts the construction industry helps/hurts me directly!).

    Which is why, before Trump, the norm was that sitting Presidents hand their assets over to a trust so they have neither input nor knowledge of how their assets are doing on a day to day basis.

    And it would apply to Bloomberg, Steyer, and any other business owner who runs for high office.

    kishnevi (496414)

  11. yes, like Clinton’s upstanding attorneys, like lanny davis who stinks of Ukrainian borscht, and whatever the local meals are in Pakistan and equatorial guinea, anybody check his bank accounts, or david boies, representing Weinstein, along side baby snuffing apologist jose baez, they don’t get along because Weinstein didn’t kill a single person, amateur, or david kendall counsel for the nationa l enquirer, while representing the Clinton, represented david Petraeus, or greg craig another double up on borscht, where did they batter down the door at skadden arps,

    narciso (d1f714)

  12. You misspelled “attaindment” — the NY law is a bill of attainder, creating a law to affect a single individual and depriving him of a right granted all others.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  13. I believe Shaw’s comments are an indirect defense of Trump by trying to make the point that Trump is the exception to the Emolument Clause because he owns hotels. Therefore, it should be ignored. Constitution aside.

    Dana (bb0678)

  14. Can you guys read this link:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/09/25/the-emoluments-clauses-litigation-part-1-the-constitutions-taxonomy-of-officers-and-offices/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.a7010bee4e06

    The writers essentially state that the president does not hold an “Office … under the United States.”

    In which:

    In this post, we will explain that under the Constitution’s taxonomy, appointed — and not elected — officials hold office “Under … the United States.”

    whembly (fd57f6)

  15. Trump is the exception to the Emolument Clause because he doesn’t take bribes from overseas. Oh, wait, that’s not an exception, that’s just not being in violation.

    Kevin M (21ca15)

  16. Congress is charged with providing oversight, but that doesn’t include going on politically driven fishing expeditions.

    While it’s true that most presidents and presidential candidates release at least some of their returns voluntarily, it’s never been mandatory. And our tax laws are set up in such a way as to take great pains to keep everyone’s returns private except under extraordinary circumstances

    Actually they can go on politically driven fishing expeditions. There’s nothing in the constitution that forbids it. As you say, tax return privacy is a matter of law. Maybe also good policy, except under extraordinary circumstances.

    Sammy Finkelman (27cd2c)

  17. “I may tie my tax returns, I’d love to give my tax returns, I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate.”

    “If I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely. And I would love to do that,”

    Dustin (e01605)

  18. Dustin and Dave,

    Stop taking him literally. What he really meant to say was… Why do you hold Trump to a higher standard than… Why can’t you focus on the positive things about Trump? Etc.

    Dana (bb0678)


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