After running a relentless midterm election message of health care as voters’ highest priority, the first action out of the gate for the new Democratic majority might be tax reform … of a sort. Rep Eric Swalwell pledged to publish Donald Trump’s tax returns — not for “voyeuristic interest,” Swalwell tells NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Today, but because the new House majority will “conduct investigations Republicans wouldn’t conduct.” Apparently, though, the Democrats will conduct investigations that the IRS will conduct — and have conducted for more than a dozen years:
We’ll fill in the gaps on the Russia investigations. The American people will see his tax returns, not because of any voyeuristic interest, but because they should know if he is corrupt. And we will look at the cashing in of access to the oval office and that has been concerning and his financial entanglements overseas.
Why, pray tell, do the American people need to see Trump’s tax returns? They made it clear enough in the 2016 election that it wasn’t necessary, despite calls from both parties (at different times, of course) for Trump to produce them. Trump refused to do so for two professed reasons: one, he was still undergoing audits by the IRS, and two, he didn’t want to. That didn’t keep enough voters from making him president. The entire exercise is nothing but voyeuristic, part of an effort to cherry-pick entries from highly complex financial documents without context to turn into a circus for people who won’t understand much of what’s being presented.
Besides, the IRS has been investigating Trump since long before he decided to go into politics. They have yet to charge him with any “corruption,” or much of anything else while negotiating with his legal team. Does anyone believe that the IRS wouldn’t have brought a case before 2015 if they had one to make? And won’t congressional subpoenas tend to interfere in their ongoing process?
Trump himself made the same points earlier today in his post-election presser:
Asked by @jonkarl whether he would block Democratic attempts to go after his tax returns, Pres. Trump repeats claim that his tax returns are under "continuous audit."
— ABC News (@ABC) November 7, 2018
Swalwell agrees with Trump on one point, although Guthrie has to practically pin him down to get the answer. After professing a need for “more fresh blood” in House Democratic leadership, Swalwell says Nancy Pelosi should return as speaker in the next session of Congress. Profiles in Courage this ain’t.