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Old 05-12-2020, 12:26 AM
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What if SCOTUS sides with Trump ?


Most of the opinion columns I have seen assume that the Supreme Court will rule that Trump bankers and accountants must comply with congressional and state court subpoenas. There is ample precedent for this view and I hope it proves correct. What if it does not? What if they rule that while in office a President is immune from investigation by anyone- maybe unless it is for an (undefined) good reason. What then? Do we need to riot in the streets? Is democracy dead?
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:12 AM
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We've had numerous "democracy is now dead?" moments these past few years. It'll still survive.

As for rioting in the streets, it is okay if wearing masks and six feet apart.
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Old 05-12-2020, 06:05 AM
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The GOP SCOTUS will probably side with Trump, as it usually does. This shouldn't be surprising -- it's a Republican-controlled branch of government right now. This sucks and hopefully it will change, but that's how it is.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:52 AM
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I expect it very well may side with Trump along party lines, and I disagree that democracy has survived in the US.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:18 AM
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So far, the court is reacting quite skeptically — even Thomas and Alito — to Trump counsel’s argument that the president, and anyone evenly remotely connected to the president, cannot be investigated while he is in office because UNLEGAL. Nixon and Clinton are NOT PRECEDENT.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:38 AM
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If SCOTUS sides with Trump then the congressional overview of presidents will be over if the same party controls the Senate. If they side with Trump, the likely argument will be that if Congress has a problem with the conduct of a president with whom they take issue with stonewalling an investigation, then the recourse is impeachment. Since impeachment is now toothless if the Senate is the same party as the president will infer that if the president's party and the Senate then the president is above the law.

In the long term, such a ruling would not be good for American democracy, which is increasingly flirting with fascism.

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 05-12-2020 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:46 AM
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We've had numerous "democracy is now dead?" moments these past few years. It'll still survive.
It is o.k. for democracy to be dying as long as it isn't quite dead yet?
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:50 AM
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The oral arguments in Trump v Mazars (the first oral arguments today) were going along reasonably balanced until Justice Alito questioned the House counsel Douglas Letter. Letter had tremendous difficulty articulating a limiting principle. Even Breyer seemed troubled by that in a second round of questioning.

It was a face plant. Not being well prepared to offer an argument for a limiting principle in a case like this is a huge mistake.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:02 AM
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The oral arguments in Trump v Mazars (the first oral arguments today) were going along reasonably balanced until Justice Alito questioned the House counsel Douglas Letter. Letter had tremendous difficulty articulating a limiting principle. Even Breyer seemed troubled by that in a second round of questioning.

It was a face plant. Not being well prepared to offer an argument for a limiting principle in a case like this is a huge mistake.
I don't think that's accurate. According to the WaPo, when Roberts objected to the "is the request legislation-related" test,
Quote:
Letter said that an alternative might be that Congress’s power to investigate the president should be curbed when it interferes with the president’s ability to carry out his constitutional duties. He said that the House’s requests in this case — many of which are aimed at third parties, requiring no action by Trump himself — would be allowed under that standard.
So, there are two different tests suggested.

Frankly, if the records request isn't interfering with the president's ability to carry out duties, I don't see why we need a limit outside of the next election cycle. Congress's oversight of the executive branch is fundamental to the balance of the branches. If they're turning it ugly, vote 'em out.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:45 AM
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Up until Alito's questioning of Letter I would have agreed that it was 4-4 with the usual partisan split with Roberts to make the deciding vote. After Alito's questioning, and particularly after Breyer's follow up, I'd say 6-3 for Trump, possibly even 7-2.

Sotomayor tried to bail out Letter with her questioning immediately following Alito. It did not go well for Letter.

The justices plainly wanted a limiting principle. It was up to each attorney to argue for a principle that would put their client on the winning side of the dividing line. Letter was not up to the task of articulating a limiting principle.


So far the arguments in Vance are leaning pretty heavily against Trump.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:48 AM
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"What happens" is that we have a dictator, not a president, who is above the law and cannot be legally held accountable for anything he does or does not do.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:55 AM
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If the SCOTUS sides with the white house it won't be the end of democracy in the US; I am sure they will reverse the decision as soon as a Democrat is in the office.
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Old 05-12-2020, 11:56 AM
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Even if five Justices vote on the side of democracy, Trump will just order his IRS lackey not to comply. It's all a charade.
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Old 05-12-2020, 12:59 PM
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Even if five Justices vote on the side of democracy, Trump will just order his IRS lackey not to comply. It's all a charade.
This is the answer. What is going to happen if SCOTUS rules against Trump, and Trump just says "I don't care. I'm still not going to hand them over"?

Nothing, that's what is going to happen.
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Old 05-12-2020, 01:12 PM
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Up until Alito's questioning of Letter I would have agreed that it was 4-4 with the usual partisan split with Roberts to make the deciding vote. After Alito's questioning, and particularly after Breyer's follow up, I'd say 6-3 for Trump, possibly even 7-2.

Sotomayor tried to bail out Letter with her questioning immediately following Alito. It did not go well for Letter.

The justices plainly wanted a limiting principle. It was up to each attorney to argue for a principle that would put their client on the winning side of the dividing line. Letter was not up to the task of articulating a limiting principle.


So far the arguments in Vance are leaning pretty heavily against Trump.
I agree with this. This is a tough case for me to decide. On one hand, Congress and local prosecutors need a way to enforce their subpoena power for legitimate investigations. On the other, this seems transparently political to me.

It's no secret what is behind this. Trump's refusal to release his tax returns was front and center in the 2016 campaign. He then promised to release them after the election, and then he backed out of doing that. This has been a pissing match since then to get Trump's tax returns and the House and the NYC DA are giving bullshit justifications for wanting them.

It looks to me as if the entire Court is wanting to find the sweet spot. They reject both extreme arguments. They reject Trump's "absolute immunity" or "political question" argument, but they also do not like Congress' (or the DA's) argument that they can just issue these subpoenas as a matter of course.

The Justice Department has come up with a pretty good limiting principle (a heightened scrutiny of a subpoena against the executive branch) but Letter has completely whiffed on such a principle.

I predict a 9-0 punt. These parties need to provide a heightened justification and we'll kick it back to the District Court to analyze it under our new standard.
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Old 05-12-2020, 01:26 PM
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It strikes me as unfair for justices to expect that one side must be rational and serve them up a limiting principle for the subpoena power while also not demanding a limiting principle for the other side which is basically arguing total and complete presidential immunity.
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Old 05-12-2020, 01:45 PM
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The justices did question Trump admin lawyers on this, and they (the lawyers) basically admitted that congress has some ability to compel evidence as part of their oversight function.
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Old 05-12-2020, 01:57 PM
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The liberal justices are also (or ought to be) looking further beyond down the road than Trump's presidency, which may end in a mere eight months. The next Republican Congress can use all kinds of subpoenas or suits against the next Democratic president.
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:01 PM
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It strikes me as unfair for justices to expect that one side must be rational and serve them up a limiting principle for the subpoena power while also not demanding a limiting principle for the other side which is basically arguing total and complete presidential immunity.
But the Justice Dept. did offer a limiting principle--a heightened need.

And Ginsburg talks about the 10th Amendment..hahahahaha! I don't think she's ever been concerned about it before.
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:02 PM
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The liberal justices are also (or ought to be) looking further beyond down the road than Trump's presidency, which may end in a mere eight months. The next Republican Congress can use all kinds of subpoenas or suits against the next Democratic president.
The point of Congress doing oversight into the President and the Executive Branch isn’t to “protect our guy/fuck over their guy,” it is to curb abuses. If people don’t like the oversight Congress is doing, take it up at the ballot box.
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:03 PM
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But the Justice Dept. did offer a limiting principle--a heightened need.
I haven’t seen any press coverage on that. What is “heightened need?” And I assume this is one of those issues where the DoJ disagreed with Jay what’s his name, the Blue Haired Lawyer from the Simpsons?
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:05 PM
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There is another issue; can Trump prevent Trump's accountants and banks from answering a subpeona for their records? Trump is suing to prevent that. This is an investigation for tax fraud in NY State. I have further thoughts on the subject, but rather than hijack this thread, I will start another.
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Old 05-12-2020, 02:42 PM
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There seemed to be absolutely no concern that Trump was seeking to intervene in a case where a third party was subpoenaed. It was taken as a given that since the records related to Trump's accounts that he has standing to seek to quash the subpoena.
...

The "heightened need" referenced a DOJ argued standard that a house of Congress should show a particular need for records that could not be easily obtained elsewhere and those records reasonably relate to a legitimate legislative function and not be targeting the individual as an exemplar of a general class.

Chief Justice Roberts asked the House attorney to articulate an example of a subpoena that could not sustained by an argument that legislation is being contemplated. He could not provide a single example.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huff Post article by Paul Blumentahal
link to article
...
Almost every justice pressed House general counsel Douglas Letter for a limit on what records Congress could subpoena as a case study for considering relevant legislation. He repeatedly stumbled to provide an answer.

Roberts asked for a “plausible example that you think is beyond any legislation that Congress would write.”

The courts had previously ruled that Congress could not do so if there was no clear legislative purpose undergirding the subpoenas, Letter argued.

“Your test is not much of a test,” Roberts said, adding that Letter was not taking into consideration the separation-of-powers question at issue.
...
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Old 05-12-2020, 03:03 PM
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The liberal justices are also (or ought to be) looking further beyond down the road than Trump's presidency, which may end in a mere eight months. The next Republican Congress can use all kinds of subpoenas or suits against the next Democratic president.
If the precedent set is that the president has to release his tax returns to congress when subpoenaed, and the democratic candidate has already released their tax returns, what exactly is the chilling effect here?

We want our presidents to be open and transparent, and if this sets a precedent for our presidents to be open and transparent, then that is a good thing for everyone. Everyone, that is, that doesn't have things to hide in their tax returns.

Not to mention, the previous Republican congress(es) used all kinds of subpoenas and suits against the last Democratic president(s). If it is precedent that you are worried about, that precedent has already been set. Are you telling me that you think that if the Democratic Congress just let Trump be, and did not exercise their constitutional duty of congressional oversite, that the next time Republicans hold congress and Democrats the White House, the Republicans will leave the president alone?

So, why is it that Republicans support it when Republicans want to investigate the Democratic president, but consider it beyond the pale to hold a Republican president to anywhere near the same standard?
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Old 05-12-2020, 03:24 PM
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There seemed to be absolutely no concern that Trump was seeking to intervene in a case where a third party was subpoenaed. It was taken as a given that since the records related to Trump's accounts that he has standing to seek to quash the subpoena.
While I did not listen to the entire oral argument, I heard several justices ask questions relating to why Trump could quash a subpeona that wasn't directed at him. I don't think they were terribly impressed with the responses, but that may be my bias - SCOTUS tends to have the best poker faces of any branch of government.
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Old 05-12-2020, 04:05 PM
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I am confused why there needs to be a judicial limit on Congress's oversight power. That oversight power should be, IMO, absolute. If they're abusing it, that's what elections are for. There's no way that they can use this power to undermine democracy itself. Having an executive branch immune from oversight is obviously much more detrimental to our system of government than having a legislative branch that can see everything the executive branch is up to.
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Old 05-12-2020, 04:22 PM
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I expect nothing more from this Supreme court than to side with Trump, or punt the ball.
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Old 05-12-2020, 04:33 PM
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I am confused why there needs to be a judicial limit on Congress's oversight power. That oversight power should be, IMO, absolute. If they're abusing it, that's what elections are for. There's no way that they can use this power to undermine democracy itself. Having an executive branch immune from oversight is obviously much more detrimental to our system of government than having a legislative branch that can see everything the executive branch is up to.
I think Congress can abuse the power (like the McCarthy hearings) but this case about tax returns is small potatoes compared to the total stonewalling by Trump and his criminal gang for the subpoenas relating to impeachment.

This idiot in charge has established the precedent that Congress will never again be able to get evidence to investigate a future criminal President. A future Richard Nixon has literally nothing to fear because any future Watergate investigation can never get off the ground.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:55 PM
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I am confused why there needs to be a judicial limit on Congress's oversight power. That oversight power should be, IMO, absolute. If they're abusing it, that's what elections are for. There's no way that they can use this power to undermine democracy itself. Having an executive branch immune from oversight is obviously much more detrimental to our system of government than having a legislative branch that can see everything the executive branch is up to.
The problem I have is that this unlimited power can easily be abused. It seems that from listening to both sides, if I was to piss off the wrong member of Congress, a single committee could then decide to investigate me, say under the guise of using me as a case study for tax policy and how it impacts those living in rural states.

It then subpoenas my tax returns and all financial documents, all emails and text messages that I have sent to my wife, you know to see a case study about happiness and mental health, also perhaps to determine the underlying level of possible domestic violence, and then asks me what and how much I eat and drink, how much exercise I get, and how often I have sex with my wife. The committee could ask her the same things to compare them to my answers.

While that seems absurd, I cannot find any reason why a single Congressional committee couldn't ask that of any American, under any of the arguments presented today.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:58 PM
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The problem I have is that this unlimited power can easily be abused. It seems that from listening to both sides, if I was to piss off the wrong member of Congress, a single committee could then decide to investigate me, say under the guise of using me as a case study for tax policy and how it impacts those living in rural states.



It then subpoenas my tax returns and all financial documents, all emails and text messages that I have sent to my wife, you know to see a case study about happiness and mental health, also perhaps to determine the underlying level of possible domestic violence, and then asks me what and how much I eat and drink, how much exercise I get, and how often I have sex with my wife. The committee could ask her the same things to compare them to my answers.



While that seems absurd, I cannot find any reason why a single Congressional committee couldn't ask that of any American, under any of the arguments presented today.
If you're president, what's the problem? In all likelihood such obviously unjust demands would backfire, as the Clinton impeachment backfired on the Republicans in the 90s. You'd soar in popularity and the opposition would tank.

If you're not president, then congress wouldn't be able to do that, because you're not on the executive branch and thus their oversight powers wouldn't apply.
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Old 05-12-2020, 07:59 PM
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Ninja’ed.

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Old 05-12-2020, 08:08 PM
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The problem I have is that this unlimited power can easily be abused. It seems that from listening to both sides, if I was to piss off the wrong member of Congress, a single committee could then decide to investigate me...
Remind me again how many times Hillary Clinton was investigated over Benghazi?

I'll help you...ten.

What wrongdoing did they find?

I'm pretty sure none.

Republicans have noooo problems with investigations and clearly think it is in their purview to do them as members of congress.
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Old 05-12-2020, 08:10 PM
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If the precedent set is that the president has to release his tax returns to congress when subpoenaed, and the democratic candidate has already released their tax returns, what exactly is the chilling effect here?

We want our presidents to be open and transparent, and if this sets a precedent for our presidents to be open and transparent, then that is a good thing for everyone. Everyone, that is, that doesn't have things to hide in their tax returns.
Because it first is a serious separation of powers issue. Put Trump aside. I know that most people here think he is an absolute danger to the country, but this isn't just about Trump; it is about all presidents going forward.

And the bottom line is that the Constitution does not require a presidential candidate to release his or her tax returns. Congress could not pass a law requiring that. The remedy for that is that you as a voter refuse to cast your vote for someone who does not release his or her tax returns.

If they cannot get this information out the front door, they should not be able to get it out the back.

If this was done the other way, say Trump had the FBI gather personal information on members of Congress for political uses, then there would be howling. Remember Hoover and his dirty tricks? That is universally condemned and I don't know why this should be different.

And if you are honest with yourself, this is pure politics. There is not going to be an entry on his tax return saying "Received from V. Putin for veto of bill--$15,000,000." You are looking for things like: 1) he does not make as much money as he claims, 2) he has not paid any income tax for the past X years, 3) here is a list of companies he controls, and we look at them for seedy practices, etc. It's a fishing expedition and it is what is done in 3rd world countries.
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Old 05-12-2020, 08:16 PM
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If you're not president, then congress wouldn't be able to do that, because you're not on the executive branch and thus their oversight powers wouldn't apply.
It would come under their "legislative investigations" power that was discussed. In other words, Congress is considering legislation and they need full information in order to pass the best bill possible.

So, they (pretextually) claim that the plight of the halfway to alcoholic lawyers in rural states is a matter of national interest for legislation. So they use me as a case study. From what I heard today, that is completely legit.

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Remind me again how many times Hillary Clinton was investigated over Benghazi?

I'll help you...ten.

What wrongdoing did they find?

I'm pretty sure none.

Republicans have noooo problems with investigations and clearly think it is in their purview to do them as members of congress.
Did Hillary ever challenge the subpoenas? If not, then that's not really the right question.
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Old 05-12-2020, 08:36 PM
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Because it first is a serious separation of powers issue. Put Trump aside. I know that most people here think he is an absolute danger to the country, but this isn't just about Trump; it is about all presidents going forward.
Yes. It’s about all Presidents going forward. That’s the point. You may be obsessed with defending Trump against those no-good liberals, but I’m looking at all the Presidents in the future who may also take advantage of a gutting of oversight over the Chief Executive.


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And the bottom line is that the Constitution does not require a presidential candidate to release his or her tax returns. Congress could not pass a law requiring that.
Whoa whoa whoa, why not? The Constitution doesn’t require a lot of things that Congress has legislated on. Campaign finance laws, for example.
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If this was done the other way, say Trump had the FBI gather personal information on members of Congress for political uses, then there would be howling. Remember Hoover and his dirty tricks?
This isn’t for political purposes, no more than the multitude of FBI investigations into members of Congress in recent years have been for political purposes.

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And if you are honest with yourself, this is pure politics.
This is about checks and balances. It’s only political if someone wants to protect Trump from oversight.

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It would come under their "legislative investigations" power that was discussed. In other words, Congress is considering legislation and they need full information in order to pass the best bill possible.

So, they (pretextually) claim that the plight of the halfway to alcoholic lawyers in rural states is a matter of national interest for legislation. So they use me as a case study. From what I heard today, that is completely legit.
As a general principle, should all laws apply equally to the President as to halfway alcoholic lawyers? Like, should you also be prohibited from receiving emoluments for foreign princes?

Or maybe — just maybe — congressional oversight of the government deserves more latitude than investigations into random private persons.

Naaaaaaaaaaah.

Last edited by Ravenman; 05-12-2020 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:09 PM
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Did Hillary ever challenge the subpoenas? If not, then that's not really the right question.
The administration would have made this decision. Likely Obama's choice.

And the point is Obama was not mad enough to claim absolute immunity for his administration.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:10 PM
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...it is about all presidents going forward.
Indeed.

If Trump prevails here remember this the next time a democrat becomes president.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:19 PM
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This is just a pretty straight forward request for his tax returns. He declined to release them, the Dems are pissed and are using a pretext to get them. This is not "oversight." There is no probable cause or any other cause to believe that his tax returns contain criminal information, but they likely do contain embarrassing information or other information that can be used for political purposes.

What legitimate information do you believe is contained in Trump's tax returns? If the answer is "I don't know, that's why we need them" then that's a power that has never been asserted by Congress prior to this. Nobody has ever argued that Congress should be able to turn a president's life upside-down just to see if something shakes loose.
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:45 PM
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Probable cause isn't necessary for congressional subpoenas, but there's obviously been a ton of smoke around Trump for years. We obviously don't know what's in the returns but we do know that he still has close family members running his businesses which has repeatedly led to conflicts of interest, some of his former associates have testified that he directed them to commit financial crimes and we know foreign entities have made suspicious loans to him.

Practically, he could have confessed to shooting someone on 5th avenue in his returns, and congress still wouldn't have the majority to impeach, or even override a presidential veto if they try to pass legislation with some sort of safeguard against his crimes, but standing down because of it seems futile would be both stupid and dangerous.
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Old 05-12-2020, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
This is just a pretty straight forward request for his tax returns. He declined to release them, the Dems are pissed and are using a pretext to get them. This is not "oversight." There is no probable cause or any other cause to believe that his tax returns contain criminal information, but they likely do contain embarrassing information or other information that can be used for political purposes.

What legitimate information do you believe is contained in Trump's tax returns? If the answer is "I don't know, that's why we need them" then that's a power that has never been asserted by Congress prior to this. Nobody has ever argued that Congress should be able to turn a president's life upside-down just to see if something shakes loose.
The reason for the subpoena is irrelevant. It was lawfully issued.

Are you saying the President should be able to ignore a lawfully issued subpoena?
  #41  
Old 05-12-2020, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
This is just a pretty straight forward request for his tax returns. He declined to release them, the Dems are pissed and are using a pretext to get them.
There’s literally a law that specifically says that certain people in Congress can get them, but can’t release the contents without going to jail. If this were a Republican asking for a Dem’s returns, and the Dem was saying the statute doesn’t count, how many cries about “rule of law” do you think we’d be hearing?

Quote:
There is no probable cause or any other cause to believe that his tax returns contain criminal information, but they likely do contain embarrassing information or other information that can be used for political purposes.
Does Congress require probable cause of a criminal violation to do investigations and oversight? Of course not. Keep in mind which articles of the constitution we are dealing with here.
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What legitimate information do you believe is contained in Trump's tax returns?
Here’s one for you: did the IRS properly audit the returns of the President?

Every President, I believe, is audited annually. Are those audits bullshit or real? Does Congress NOT have the power to examine whether the IRS is following its own policies? Or, was the congressional investigation involving Lois Lerner also illegitimate?

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If the answer is "I don't know, that's why we need them" then that's a power that has never been asserted by Congress prior to this. Nobody has ever argued that Congress should be able to turn a president's life upside-down just to see if something shakes loose.
Well thank goodness I had a good answer to your bad question!

Let me ask you a question: has every President since Nixon had their lives turned upside down by virtue of them voluntarily releasing tax returns? If not, why is Trump being so greatly harmed when no other President has cared about letting literally everyone in the world see their taxes?

Last edited by Ravenman; 05-12-2020 at 10:18 PM.
  #42  
Old 05-12-2020, 10:28 PM
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So, why is it that Republicans support it when Republicans want to investigate the Democratic president, but consider it beyond the pale to hold a Republican president to anywhere near the same standard?
I assume that this is a rhetorical question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ultra Vires
There is no probable cause or any other cause to believe that his tax returns contain criminal information, but they likely do contain embarrassing information or other information that can be used for political purposes.

What legitimate information do you believe is contained in Trump's tax returns? If the answer is "I don't know, that's why we need them" then that's a power that has never been asserted by Congress prior to this.
It is not a question of whether or not they contain criminal information. The question is whether there is some sort of legitimate legislative purpose for them to have them. And, I can think of a lot of such purposes: Passing a law compelling Presidents to release their tax returns. Or beefing up certain conflict of interest laws in relation to the President or his/her associates, ...

Last edited by jshore; 05-12-2020 at 10:32 PM.
  #43  
Old 05-13-2020, 03:04 AM
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I assume that this is a rhetorical question.



It is not a question of whether or not they contain criminal information. The question is whether there is some sort of legitimate legislative purpose for them to have them. And, I can think of a lot of such purposes: Passing a law compelling Presidents to release their tax returns. Or beefing up certain conflict of interest laws in relation to the President or his/her associates, ...
A couple of posters have come back to this as justification. A substantially similar issue has been litigated. The federal courts have ruled such a state law in California as unconstitutional in the context of ballot access. There has been a Supreme Court case (Torcaso v Watkins, Everson v Board of Education) regarding qualifications for federal office. In short, the courts have ruled that the Constitution lists the sole requirements for federal office which cannot be added to without an amendment.

Supreme Court precedent, as referred to by Justice Kagan during oral arguments, bars the use of Congressional subpoenas as a generalize fishing expedition. She noted that "a valid legislative purpose" (Kilbourn v Thompson) is required.

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Originally Posted by from Kilbourn v Thompson, as quoted at Scotusblog
The court explained that no one can be punished for contempt “as a witness before either house unless his testimony is required in a matter into which that house has jurisdiction to inquire, and we feel equally sure that neither of these bodies possesses the general power of making inquiry into the private affairs of the citizen.”
  #44  
Old 05-13-2020, 03:04 AM
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It is not a question of whether or not they contain criminal information. The question is whether there is some sort of legitimate legislative purpose for them to have them. And, I can think of a lot of such purposes: Passing a law compelling Presidents to release their tax returns. Or beefing up certain conflict of interest laws in relation to the President or his/her associates, ...
First, requiring a president to release his tax returns would be unconstitutional as a separation of powers issue and an addition to qualifications.

Second, you do concede that these are pretextual, bullshit reasons, right? Nobody cares about "beefing up" any laws. They want a quick peek at his tax returns, are miffed that he didn't release them, and they want to take his ego down a notch by showing him that they won and he lost.

I didn't realize how much power that people just believed that Congress had in this area. Can you give a good reason why they couldn't get my tax returns or ask me how often I have sex with my wife under the reasons I posted above? You know, for legislative research; they want to look at how tax policy affects half way there alcoholic lawyers in rural areas and see whether they need what level of taxation is good for a rural upper middle class professional person.

If you would, tell me why Congress couldn't do that, if I sufficiently pissed off a member and that member convinced the committee chair to issue that discovery.

This "implied" power seems overly broad. Yes, Congress has the power to legislate and the power to impeach, but I don't see how it flows from that it can commandeer others into giving them information to legislate and impeach. As a parent I am given the power to set my daughter's curfew. It doesn't follow that I can use compulsory process to get any information I might need (or just pretend I need) to set that curfew. That's a bridge way too far.
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Old 05-13-2020, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Iggy View Post
A couple of posters have come back to this as justification. A substantially similar issue has been litigated. The federal courts have ruled such a state law in California as unconstitutional in the context of ballot access. There has been a Supreme Court case (Torcaso v Watkins, Everson v Board of Education) regarding qualifications for federal office. In short, the courts have ruled that the Constitution lists the sole requirements for federal office which cannot be added to without an amendment.
This is why I don't understand why so many proposals are based on using some kind of force to compel the candidates themselves to "release" their returns. States kinda had to try that, it's all they could do, but the federal government already has everyone's federal tax returns. A new law could simply require that the IRS release to the FEC, which would be required to post them alongside the existing financial disclosures, the returns of every candidate who files to run for president.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 05-13-2020 at 04:42 AM.
  #46  
Old 05-13-2020, 06:01 AM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
First, requiring a president to release his tax returns would be unconstitutional as a separation of powers issue and an addition to qualifications.
Is current law requiring financial disclosures from the President unconstitutional? No, of course not. But Dems are making Trump uncomfortable and some people just can’t stand that, can they?

Quote:
Nobody cares about "beefing up" any laws.
I think that’s a reasonable proposal, but oversight over the IRS as to whether they are actually carrying out their own policies is more compelling. I mean, does anyone believe that Congress should take the IRS at its word that it’s doing a good job?

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Can you give a good reason why they couldn't get my tax returns or ask me how often I have sex with my wife under the reasons I posted above?
Because there is a big difference between oversight over a branch of government for which checks and balances are supposed to apply, and the McCarthy hearings. How many times does this need to be explained? Calling in, say Wilbur Ross to explain his racist census question decision making isn’t at all like calling you in to describe your consultations with your clients.

Quote:
This "implied" power seems overly broad. Yes, Congress has the power to legislate and the power to impeach, but I don't see how it flows from that it can commandeer others into giving them information to legislate and impeach.
The implied power of Congress, which has centuries of precedent, is on stronger footing than the fictional power made up of whole cloth by the President’s corrupt attorneys that the President can never be annoyed by Congress.

By the way, why haven’t you mentioned the intrusion into Bill Clinton’s sex life as an unconstitutional abuse?

Last edited by Ravenman; 05-13-2020 at 06:02 AM.
  #47  
Old 05-13-2020, 06:11 AM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
This is just a pretty straight forward request for his tax returns. He declined to release them, the Dems are pissed and are using a pretext to get them. This is not "oversight." There is no probable cause or any other cause to believe that his tax returns contain criminal information, but they likely do contain embarrassing information or other information that can be used for political purposes.

What legitimate information do you believe is contained in Trump's tax returns? If the answer is "I don't know, that's why we need them" then that's a power that has never been asserted by Congress prior to this. Nobody has ever argued that Congress should be able to turn a president's life upside-down just to see if something shakes loose.
The president says he's under audit. Is the IRS giving him special treatment because he's president, or is he being treated like any other citizen?

That's a legitimate oversight purpose right there. Nice and simple and clear.
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Old 05-13-2020, 06:25 AM
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First, requiring a president to release his tax returns would be unconstitutional as a separation of powers issue and an addition to qualifications.
I don't see how such a requirement would be unconstitutional, though a law needs to be there for that to happen. However the way I see it is Trump lied and said he would release them, but that was a campaign lie, which is allowed, he does not need to disclose them to the public as it currently stands. However he is accountable, and his tax return should have to be released to congress (not the public) at the request of congress. They are our elected representatives and they can decide if any action needs to be taken which may include releasing them to the public if need be. Now if congress releases them improperly, well that's a issue with them, not a reason to deny the legal request.

Last edited by kanicbird; 05-13-2020 at 06:26 AM.
  #49  
Old 05-13-2020, 06:55 AM
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Is current law requiring financial disclosures from the President unconstitutional? No, of course not. But Dems are making Trump uncomfortable and some people just can’t stand that, can they?
Financial disclosure requirements of the Ethics in Government Act have not, as far as I can find, been challenged in court. Justice Scalia's dissent in Morrison v Olson (which upheld the Independent Counsel Act, a section of the Ethics in Government Act) certainly suggested the reason why noting, " it is difficult to vote not to enact, and even more difficult to vote to repeal, a statute called, appropriately enough, the Ethics in Government Act. If Congress is controlled by the party other than the one to which the President belongs, it has little incentive to repeal it; if it is controlled by the same party, it dare not."

Who would dare challenge disclosure requirements elsewhere in the EGA?
  #50  
Old 05-13-2020, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Lord Feldon View Post
This is why I don't understand why so many proposals are based on using some kind of force to compel the candidates themselves to "release" their returns. States kinda had to try that, it's all they could do, but the federal government already has everyone's federal tax returns. A new law could simply require that the IRS release to the FEC, which would be required to post them alongside the existing financial disclosures, the returns of every candidate who files to run for president.
Exactly what I was going to say. The idea that this is an additional hurdle for candidates is absurd.

Hell, someone that wants to be on the ballot must file the appropriate paperwork, right? Is this an unconstitutional hurdle?

It's 100% legitimate to say, "We think the public has an interest in knowing a presidential candidate's financial history. Our current president has refused to disclose his history, and that's led to years of uncertainty about things like whether he's self-dealing, whether he's violating the Emoluments clause, and even whether he has received payments from foreign nations. In writing this legislation, we'd like to see his financial records, to ensure that we write our legislation fairly and to prevent abuses of the sort he's suspected to have engaged in. We anticipate that our bill will provide an exemption to IRS privacy codes, such that the tax records of presidential candidates are released to the public by the IRS no later than 2 weeks after they have been confirmed for at least one state ballot."

Last edited by Left Hand of Dorkness; 05-13-2020 at 07:06 AM.
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