There’s gold in them thar … returns. At least, Democratic Party officials and high-powered donors believe so, and they want to mine Donald Trump’s IRS documents and strike the mother lode before the election in November. With Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort apparently foreclosing the possibility of Trump volunteering the records, wealthy Hillary Clinton supporters have offered millions of dollars to Trump’s favorite charities to change his mind:
The wealthy Democratic donors, many of them executives who run complex businesses, know firsthand how revealing tax returns can be. Perhaps that’s why they can’t stop talking about Republican nominee Donald Trump’s refusal to release his. …
There’s even literally a bounty for the Trump documents.
Moishe Mana, a top fundraiser for Clinton, has offered to give $1 million to the charity of Trump’s choice if he makes them public. He joins an unnamed Republican donor working with Clinton ally David Brock who has made a similar offer of $5 million.
“Through his financial documents, we are trying to break into the image that he’s portraying to the American people,” said Mana, a real estate developer in Miami. “He says he’s a successful businessman who wants to do for the country what he did for his company. Well, go ahead, show me the money.”
CNBC headlines this story as “Democratic donors, allies offer reward for Trump tax returns,” which makes it sound like they want bounty hunters to grab them any way possible. The story from the AP makes clear that the offers are to Trump directly, not for theft, but one has to wonder how long it will take for those millions to be open for more, er … direct action. If Trump continues to compete with Hillary in the polls, those Democratic donors might get a lot more anxious for material on which to launch more effective attacks on the Republican nominee.
In the meantime, don’t expect Trump to be moved by offers of charitable donations. For one thing, he’s not moved by them anyway. But it’s also very easy to argue that if these donors have that much money sitting around to offer to charities based on Trump’s actions, then they should be giving those funds anyway. That attack got used more than once against Trump over the past year, so the Trump team should be familiar with it.
The New York Daily News takes a different tack. The anti-Trump tabloid wants the IRS to drop its audits of Trump and take away his “false excuse“:
Supported by President Obama, the IRS should declare Trump’s tax audit settled. The benefit of preventing him from further politicizing the tax agency would far outweigh collecting however many millions of dollars he may have shorted the U.S. …
Voters should shame him, hound him and harangue him — and the IRS should cut its losses by cutting him loose.
Brilliant! That’s a bulletproof argument, except for one wee detail.At least thus far, Trump’s a private citizen who’s using the fact of an ongoing audit as a reason to keep his returns private, so he’s not politicizing the agency; he has no power over it. NYDN editors want to stop politicizing the IRS by having the President order an investigation to be stopped so his party can win a political argument. That’s not just politicizing the agency — it’s an abuse of power, and it’s not far removed from the reverse of what the IRS did to conservative groups under Lois Lerner.
Besides, even without the audit, Trump can choose not to share his tax returns, and clearly doesn’t want to do so at all. Voters can (and should) consider what that means, but bribes and government corruption won’t force his hand. In fact, in the hands of a competent political campaign, a candidate might use all of this to demonstrate how a game just might be rigged. Hmmmm.