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The President’s Finances

Posted by Michael Lyman on

With all that has occurred in Washington in recent weeks and months, it appears to my eyes that one thing seems to have escaped the fray of investigating the president’s Russian ties; his taxes.

For a long time, before and after the inauguration in January, President Trump’s tax returns were a hot button issue that made a lot of people, on both sides of the political spectrum, curious as to why he would not release them. The deeper into Russian collusion accusations the media, and investigatory bodies, turned the more those tax returns were called for. This of course has been to no avail as Trump’s spokespeople have claimed no collusion and an IRS audit that allegedly keeps them from being released.

But that fervor for seeing his finances has apparently diminished. The investigation has heated up, family and campaign personnel at the highest levels have been in the crosshairs, and we cannot forget the everyday “minutia of insanity” as I like to call it of the revolving door of staffers and political appointees, controversial tweets and speeches, and concerns in domestic and foreign policy.

However, on the brink of the Mueller investigation’s intensifying, going so far as to raid the home of former campaign manager Paul Manafort, it would seem that releasing these documents could be the likely next step. But there is a problem; executive privilege.

How far does executive privilege extend? Congress can subpoena these documents with majority votes in committee but executive privilege can be invoked. That can only be overturned with “sufficient showing” that they are “essential to the justice of the case.” The Supreme Court can get involved, but then you have two branches of government toeing the line of separation of powers. The DOJ, with Mueller at the head of the investigation, would seem to be the best starting point for bringing the president’s finances to light, though they of course would remain hidden from the public eye during an ongoing investigation.

If there were any substantial financial ties between Donald Trump and Russian officials, one can hope that the IRS tax forms signed by Donald Trump himself would be the endgame. As for now, as the Economist reported today, “it pays to be president” with the Trump brand booming since inauguration. Perhaps, if this president won’t be taken down by his past dealings, the emoluments clause of the constitution will bring some much desired relief?

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