Sunday, April 07, 2019


This is, in all likelihood, an accurate prediction:
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that Democrats will "never" see President Trump's tax returns.
He's wrong about why, and he knows he is, but he knows his audience doesn't:
"Nor should they. That’s an issue that was already litigated during the election. Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns, they knew that he didn’t, and they elected him anyway," Mulvaney said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

He added that Democrats "know they're not going to" get the tax returns.

"They just want attention on the issue because they don’t want to talk to us about policy," he said.

According to the letter of the law, it doesn't matter what the election results were and it doesn't matter what the Democrats' intent is -- they're entitled to those returns:
[The] authority to seek the president’s tax returns stems from Section 6103 of the tax code: “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.”
The phrase is "shall furnish" -- no ambiguity. Black letter law is the correct phrase.

(Though please notice that "straight news" reporter Bill Hemmer, in the Fox clip above, never mentions what the law actually says.)

Trump has Mulvaney on TV acting chesty and defiant, while gaslighting us on the legal appropriateness of the request and playing I'm-rubber-you're-glue on the question of which party is defying the law. (It's Republicans who know that the text of the law isn't on their side.) Prior to that, Trump sent out one of his personal lawyers, William Consovoy, to argue that the request was an attempt to "harass" Trump because Democrats "dislike his politics and speech." (Yes, Trump is the president of the United States -- but he's being deplatformed! Like Ben Shapiro and Milo!)

This is America, of course, where the federal bench is stocked with extremists placed there by the last two Republican presidents, men who reached the White House through skulduggery and without benefit of a popular-vote mandate. Those judges won't care what the law says.

And if the courts do somehow rule against Trump, all the way up to the Supreme Court, I believe he'll still defy them. I've been saying since 2017 that Trump doesn't have the instincts of a true totalitarian dictator, which we knew when courts ruled against his first Muslim ban and he didn't say, "Screw the courts, we're doing it anyway, exactly the way we planned." Trump still wants to (more or less) color inside the lines, as the other branches of government define those lines. He'll bend the rules massively -- an emergency declaration to get his wall, for instance -- but he'll try to make it seem as if the law is on his side.

I assume that even if he's exhausted all legal channels and all possible strained interpretations of the law, and he's finally compelled to release his taxes to the House, he'll refuse, because while he doesn't have a true totalitarian will to power, he'll do anything to save his own ass, which is what he cares about more than anything else.

I'll add this: Mulvaney is so smug and cocky in the clip above that I realize I've underestimated him as a potential GOP presidential aspirant in 2024. I still think Donald Trump Jr. will clear the field if he runs, but if not, Mulvaney has a real shot at the nomination.

(At the outset of the interview -- see the video here -- he also calls his opponents "the Democrat Party." Dropping the "-ic" will be a litmus test for all future Republican presidential aspirants.)

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