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  #101  
Old 05-09-2019, 09:26 PM
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I've viewed the whole Trump tax thing with the same "Meh, whatever" attitude I took regarding Obama's birth certificate/college transcript/"documentation" noise.

But out of curiosity, what is everyone hoping to find documented in it if it ever is released?

If anyone is starting a pool, I'm betting it winds up another veggie burger like the Mueller report. Not completely nothing, but certainly no meat.
  #102  
Old 05-09-2019, 11:36 PM
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I've viewed the whole Trump tax thing with the same "Meh, whatever" attitude I took regarding Obama's birth certificate/college transcript/"documentation" noise.

But out of curiosity, what is everyone hoping to find documented in it if it ever is released?

If anyone is starting a pool, I'm betting it winds up another veggie burger like the Mueller report. Not completely nothing, but certainly no meat.
This is a completely nonsensical comparison, because we already have evidence of Trump committing crimes. It's spelled out in the Mueller report. His tax returns could turn up nothing interesting, or they could turn up embarrassing material about ethically questionable tax avoidance or business dealings, or it could turn up actual evidence for criminal conduct - any would be relevant to the public.
  #103  
Old 05-10-2019, 12:58 AM
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Does anyone actually believe the IRS has not specifically examined his taxes? While I'm sure there is something in there he doesn't want people to see, I strongly doubt criminal activity is going to be highlighted in there, if for no other reason than it would take an idiotic tax preparer to include criminal activity in a tax return. I know his "hiring only the best" is a joke, but his accountants probably ARE among the best.
  #104  
Old 05-10-2019, 04:26 AM
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I suppose the current Congressional investigation is as justified as the investigations into Obama's ancestry or Clinton's debauchery. The stupid thing is, if the House had framed this as an impechment rather than criminal investigation, these questions wouldn't have arisen, but they have emphatically said it isn't. So, they need a legitimate legislative purpose for seeing his tax returns. What is it?
They have a Constitutional mandate for oversight. And there's tons of precedent -- Congress investigated the last several presidents and their administrations on many, many different fronts (much more than "ancestry" and "debauchery"). In this case, their justification is to evaluate the effectiveness/fairness of IRS audits into sitting presidents. That's a legitimate oversight purpose -- the IRS is part of the executive branch.

What's happening now in terms of Congressional investigations is not unusual in the least. This is mundane, standard stuff.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 05-10-2019 at 04:27 AM.
  #105  
Old 05-10-2019, 04:36 AM
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I've viewed the whole Trump tax thing with the same "Meh, whatever" attitude I took regarding Obama's birth certificate/college transcript/"documentation" noise.

But out of curiosity, what is everyone hoping to find documented in it if it ever is released?

If anyone is starting a pool, I'm betting it winds up another veggie burger like the Mueller report. Not completely nothing, but certainly no meat.
"Hoping"? I dunno. But his own lawyer testified under oath that Trump's tax returns contain shady practices, which is sufficient justification for Congress to request and review them for potential tax fraud. The fact that Trump has so adamantly refused to release them (particularly after promising to do so) merely adds to the likelihood that he has something to hide.
  #106  
Old 05-10-2019, 05:54 AM
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He is a rich White man. They will let a White man play with the system and Constitution. Everyone else - pull out the shackles and jail time. They've been getting away with shit since they stole this country from the Spanish and Indians. It's been the American tradition for years.
  #107  
Old 05-10-2019, 07:04 AM
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What's happening now in terms of Congressional investigations is not unusual in the least. This is mundane, standard stuff.
Well, we shall find out if that's true as it goes through the courts. Maybe the Supreme Court will rule that way. I rather doubt it, and I suspect that the House will find its right to investigate anything significantly limited as a result of this, because the Court will both uphold its precedents and create further restrictions, due to its partisan bias.

The original question in this thread was " Why does Congress pussyfoot around with Trump's taxes?" This is why, because if they overstep their clear legal rights even slightly, they will get absolutely hammered due to the current makeup of the Supreme Court.
  #108  
Old 05-10-2019, 07:10 AM
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Well, we shall find out if that's true as it goes through the courts. Maybe the Supreme Court will rule that way. I rather doubt it, and I suspect that the House will find its right to investigate anything significantly limited as a result of this, because the Court will both uphold its precedents and create further restrictions, due to its partisan bias.
I think there's a possibility that Congress won't get the tax returns. But how on Earth would SCOTUS restrict their ability to investigate? I don't believe that has ever happened before. Talk about unprecedented! Calling witnesses, requesting documents, and holding hearings has been part of Congress's routine since the very beginning.
  #109  
Old 05-10-2019, 02:20 PM
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Just curious ... during the 276 investigations of Benghazi, how many times was the prospect of impeaching Secretary Clinton raised? I mean, it must have been a lot, otherwise those investigations were completely illegal.
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  #110  
Old 05-10-2019, 02:21 PM
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If anyone is starting a pool, I'm betting it winds up another veggie burger like the Mueller report. Not completely nothing, but certainly no meat.
The Mueller report isn't a veggie burger but a fish sandwich during Lent: plenty of meat as that word is normally defined, except the Church* has declared it not meat.

*In this analogy, the DOJ doctrine that it will not charge a sitting President with crimes. Cite. Cite.

Last edited by John Bredin; 05-10-2019 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Adding cites
  #111  
Old 05-10-2019, 03:39 PM
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Well, we shall find out if that's true as it goes through the courts. Maybe the Supreme Court will rule that way. I rather doubt it, and I suspect that the House will find its right to investigate anything significantly limited as a result of this, because the Court will both uphold its precedents and create further restrictions, due to its partisan bias.

The original question in this thread was " Why does Congress pussyfoot around with Trump's taxes?" This is why, because if they overstep their clear legal rights even slightly, they will get absolutely hammered due to the current makeup of the Supreme Court.
As others have said, this is weak. Very weak.

Yes, you found a link where a lawyer makes a 'plausible' argument that Congress is not entitled to the tax returns; he even cites law. But it is not a winning argument. Yes, it is enough to get the case into the courts, and up to the Supreme Court. But the issue is hardly as contentious as you claim, and the Supremes would be ridiculous if they denied the right to obtain the tax returns.

Now, why is it such a weak argument? As others have stated, the power of Congress to investigate is pretty wide-ranging, and the need for a legit legislative purpose is a very low bar to get past. Do you recall congress holding hearings on steroids in baseball? Yeah, that went to the issue of baseball's antitrust exemption. It's pretty easy to show a legislative reason.

Moreover, the cases your article cites don't really serve to undermine this position.

Kilbourn v. Thompson, from the 1880s, was a case where a company was indebted to the US government, went into bankruptcy, and settled its debts at a loss to the government. Congress held hearings to investigate the bankruptcy. When a witness refused to testify about the decision, he was arrested by the Sargent-at-Arms and put in jail for 45 days. He sued for false imprisonment.

The court ruled that while Congress has the power to punish its own members, it does not have the power to punish private citizens. Thus, contempt should have been referred to prosecutors for punishment. More broadly, a dispute over money is resolved in the courts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the case
If the United States is a creditor of any citizen, or of any one else on whom process can be served, the usual, the only legal mode of enforcing payment of the debt is by a resort to a court of justice. For this purpose, among others, Congress has created courts of the United States, and officers have been appointed to prosecute the pleas of the government in these courts...

The resolution of the House of Representatives authorizing the investigation was in excess of the power conferred on that body by the Constitution; that the committee, therefore, had no lawful authority to require Kilbourn to testify as a witness beyond what he voluntarily chose to tell; that the orders and resolutions of the House, and the warrant of the speaker, under which Kilbourn was imprisoned, are, in like manner, void for want of jurisdiction in that body, and that his imprisonment was without any lawful authority.
Most importantly, though, in distinguishing this case from the issue of the President of the United States, the IRS, and the effective regulation of taxes - which is to say, legislative purposes - is this little nugget:

Quote:
Was it a corporation whose powers Congress could repeal? There is no suggestion of the kind. The word ‘pool,’ in the sense here used, is of modern date, and may not be well understood, but in this case it can mean no more than that certain individuals are engaged in dealing in real estate as a commodity of traffic; and the gravamen of the whole proceeding is that a debtor of the United States may be found to have an interest in the pool. Can the rights of the pool, or of its members, and the rights of the debtor, and of the creditor of the debtor, be determined by the report of a committee or by an act of Congress? If they connot, what authority has the House to enter upon this investigation into the private affairs of individuals who hold no office under the government.
In other words, Kilbourn says that congress can't conduct its own trials. This is a far different thing than investigating issues over which the Congress can pass laws. And it is plainly distinguishable from congress' inherent power to investigate people who hold office (such as, I don't know, the President).

The other case you (or, rather, the article you found) relies on is a 1950's case called Watkins v. U.S. which sought to limit the abuses of the Red Scare. But in so doing it laid out some basic fundamentals, which you're refusing to acknowledge

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1950's case
We start with several basic premises on which there is general agreement. The power of the Congress to conduct investigations is inherent in the legislative process. That power is broad. It encompasses inquiries concerning the administration of existing laws as well as proposed or possibly needed statutes. It includes surveys of defects in our social, economic or political system for the purpose of enabling the Congress to remedy them. It comprehends probes into departments of the Federal Government to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste.
Yet again, though, the court was concerned about congress' power to punish those who did not cooperate with its investigations. In making this analysis, it refers back to the earlier Kilbourn case. In so doing, does it represent nuance? Does it bend the 'precedent' you seem to believe that the court is bound by? Let's see...

Quote:
Subsequent to the decision in Kilbourn, until recent times, there were very few cases dealing with the investigative power.25 The matter came to the fore again when the Senate undertook to study the corruption in the handling of oil leases in the 1920's. In McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135, 47 S.Ct. 319, 71 L.Ed. 580, and Sinclair v. United States, 279 U.S. 263, 49 S.Ct. 268, 73 L.Ed. 692, the Court applied the precepts of Kilbourn to uphold the authority of the Congress to conduct the challenged investigations. The Court recognized the danger to effective and honest conduct of the Government if the legislature's power to probe corruption in the executive branch were unduly hampered.
So, yeah, the court does draw a line. But it's not where you think it is.

Quote:
Kilbourn v. Thompson teaches that such an investigation into individual affairs is invalid if unrelated to any legislative purpose.
Ultimately, the court was careful to not second guess the congress - if they say that they have a legit legislative purpose, then they do. But what they will require are procedural safeguards akin to a court hearing when compelling testimony (e.g. right to a lawyer, right to remain silent).

Quote:
The conclusions we have reached in this case will not prevent the Congress, through its committees, from obtaining any information it needs for the proper fulfillment of its role in our scheme of government. The legislature is free to determine the kinds of data that should be collected. It is only those investigations that are conducted by use of compulsory process that give rise to a need to protect the rights of individuals against illegal encroachment. That protection can be readily achieved through procedures which prevent the separation of power from responsibility and which provide the constitutional requisites of fairness for witnesses. A measure of added care on the part of the House and the Senate in authorizing the use of compulsory process and by their committees in exercising that power would suffice. That is a small price to pay if it serves to uphold the principles of limited, constitutional government without constricting the power of the Congress to inform itself.
So I laugh at your confident claim that the law compelling disclosure of Trump's taxes is obviously improper or unlawful, or that the courts are hamstrung and will be compelled to deny this request as obviously unconstitutional. Nothing of the sort is reasonable.

Last edited by Moriarty; 05-10-2019 at 03:41 PM.
  #112  
Old 05-10-2019, 03:44 PM
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It seems like Trump's taxes vis-a-vis emoluments concerns are a prima facie case of sound legislative purpose. The House could probably fight it in court. Would the House maybe find it easier to just introduce some bill relating to presidential tax returns, and use that as the pretext? It wouldn't even need to be voted or debated.
  #113  
Old 05-10-2019, 04:39 PM
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Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney walked right into this one: He claimed in an interview that the Democrats are asking for Trump's returns "to make the president look bad."

Asked the obvious follow-up question "what's embarrassing about his tax records?" Mulvaney was a deer in headlights:

Quote:
GARRETT: What’s embarrassing about his tax records?
MULVANEY: That’s what they want to know.
GARRETT: But what is it?
MULVANEY: I don’t know because I’ve never seen
GARRETT: Is there something embarrassing about his tax records?
MULVANEY: I have no idea and I don’t care.

...the White House’s acting chief of staff is convinced that the effort to obtain Trump’s tax returns is intended to “embarrass the president,” which naturally leads one to wonder why Trump would be embarrassed by his tax returns.

Mulvaney apparently didn’t see this line of inquiry coming, so he was left in an awkward spot: Democrats are trying to embarrass Trump, but his chief of staff has no idea why Trump would be embarrassed by his own tax materials. ...
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-s...is-tax-returns

Guess it's back to the drawing board for GOP theories on why the Democrats are requesting to see those Trump tax records....
  #114  
Old 05-10-2019, 05:06 PM
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Trump does not have the capacity for embarrassment, anyway.
  #115  
Old 05-10-2019, 05:23 PM
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Trump does not have the capacity for embarrassment, anyway.
It's a question of semantics, perhaps. It's certainly true that he has no shame whatsoever.

He doesn't like to have people saying less-than-admiring things about him, though. It clearly bothers him.
  #116  
Old 05-10-2019, 06:29 PM
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And only one side is saying something that is consistent with what the law actually says. Just because you don't like a law, doesn't mean that you get to pretend that it doesn't exist. Laws don't work that way.
Challenging a law in court is exactly not pretending that it doesn't exist.
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  #117  
Old 05-10-2019, 09:47 PM
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But how on Earth would SCOTUS restrict their ability to investigate? I don't believe that has ever happened before.
Well, I've cited them doing so, so unless those articles I linked to are full of lies then you have no reason not to believe that.

How they do it is that someone sues, claiming that Congress is illegally or unconstitutionally investigating them, the case gets to the Supreme Court, which then rules that the investigation is unlawful/unconstitutional. As they did in response to HUAC, eventually.

Maybe this won't happen. Maybe the judges Trump chose will find that the investiagtions can continue.
  #118  
Old 05-10-2019, 09:54 PM
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So I laugh at your confident claim that the law compelling disclosure of Trump's taxes is obviously improper or unlawful, or that the courts are hamstrung and will be compelled to deny this request as obviously unconstitutional. Nothing of the sort is reasonable.
So, you think the Supreme Court, including Trump's chosen judges, will decide that way? The point is that there is precedent that will give them a fig leaf to cover their decision in Trump's favour.
  #119  
Old 05-10-2019, 10:02 PM
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How they do it is that someone sues, claiming that Congress is illegally or unconstitutionally investigating them, the case gets to the Supreme Court, which then rules that the investigation is unlawful/unconstitutional. As they did in response to HUAC, eventually.
This is factually incorrect. The court never ruled that HUAC was unconstitutional - it persisted into the 1970’s. Did you read my post? The court ruled that people are entitled to an attorney and the right to plead the 5th when subpoenaed by congress. Under no circumstances did the court shut down the committee or its investigation power.
  #120  
Old 05-10-2019, 10:09 PM
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So, you think the Supreme Court, including Trump's chosen judges, will decide that way? The point is that there is precedent that will give them a fig leaf to cover their decision in Trump's favour.
Only 5 votes are needed. There are 4 liberals (Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Breyer) and John Roberts. Remember him? He upheld the ACA because he cares about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court.

Precedent has gone out of its way to affirm the power of congress to conduct investigations of office holders and to research issues over which it might regulate. The House has the power to pass laws regarding spending - you can’t plausibly argue that they don’t have the ability to investigate taxes and the activities of the IRS with regard to the President, especially given testimony concerning his tax impropriety (to say nothing of Trump’s own statements on his shady finances).

Last edited by Moriarty; 05-10-2019 at 10:11 PM.
  #121  
Old 05-11-2019, 01:05 AM
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Does anyone actually believe the IRS has not specifically examined his taxes? While I'm sure there is something in there he doesn't want people to see, I strongly doubt criminal activity is going to be highlighted in there, if for no other reason than it would take an idiotic tax preparer to include criminal activity in a tax return.
If Trump or Trump Inc has had substantial business dealings with Russian oligarchs (or other foreign parties), even if 100% in compliance with US tax codes as interpreted by the IRS, don't you think the American people should know that? It may not be illegal but the President should not be sucking at Russian teat.

The Muller report reaffirmed what all of America's counter intelligence agencies have been saying, and that is the Russians actively interfered in the US elections process. Why the Republicans suddenly think that it's ok to let this slide (looking at you Mitch McConnel) is beyond my understanding, even in the current politicized society we are in.
  #122  
Old 05-11-2019, 05:36 AM
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Well, I've cited them doing so, so unless those articles I linked to are full of lies then you have no reason not to believe that.



How they do it is that someone sues, claiming that Congress is illegally or unconstitutionally investigating them, the case gets to the Supreme Court, which then rules that the investigation is unlawful/unconstitutional. As they did in response to HUAC, eventually.



Maybe this won't happen. Maybe the judges Trump chose will find that the investiagtions can continue.
This didn't happen. SCOTUS did not take away congress's ability to investigate anything. You are factually incorrect on this.
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Old 05-11-2019, 05:39 PM
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This didn't happen. SCOTUS did not take away congress's ability to investigate anything. You are factually incorrect on this.
It's rather silly of you to say that when I've provided cites to show that I'm right. They on at least two occasions, that I've cited, limited Congress's right to investigate, once to only investigate where there's legitimate legislative interest, and once to not act as a law enforcement agency.

Unless your point is that Congress may still have the ability to investigate these things, but not the right. In which case, I'd say that that's exactly what Trump has been doing, and not something to be emulated.

Apart from that, I'm surprised how many people here want Congress to usurp the role of law enforcement, given how often those people (including you) have noted the dangers of directly elected law enforcement - see Joe Arpaio, for one. Surely it can't be that it's fine if your side does it?
  #124  
Old 05-11-2019, 05:47 PM
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It's rather silly of you to say that when I've provided cites to show that I'm right. They on at least two occasions, that I've cited, limited Congress's right to investigate, once to only investigate where there's legitimate legislative interest, and once to not act as a law enforcement agency.

Unless your point is that Congress may still have the ability to investigate these things, but not the right. In which case, I'd say that that's exactly what Trump has been doing, and not something to be emulated.

Apart from that, I'm surprised how many people here want Congress to usurp the role of law enforcement, given how often those people (including you) have noted the dangers of directly elected law enforcement - see Joe Arpaio, for one. Surely it can't be that it's fine if your side does it?
SCOTUS did nothing to "limit Congress's right to investigate". This is factually false. Your cites show nothing of the sort.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 05-11-2019 at 05:47 PM.
  #125  
Old 05-11-2019, 07:10 PM
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Apart from that, I'm surprised how many people here want Congress to usurp the role of law enforcement, given how often those people (including you) have noted the dangers of directly elected law enforcement - see Joe Arpaio, for one. Surely it can't be that it's fine if your side does it?
But Congress isn’t usurping a law enforcement function. As Woodrow Wilson famously wrote, “The informing function of Congress should be preferred even to its legislative function.”

You’re off on some weird tilting at windmills take on this issue. Waaaaay off in left field. I barely understand any basis for your concern.
  #126  
Old 05-11-2019, 09:08 PM
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It's rather silly of you to say that when I've provided cites to show that I'm right. They on at least two occasions, that I've cited, limited Congress's right to investigate, once to only investigate where there's legitimate legislative interest, and once to not act as a law enforcement agency.
Under the holdings you’re referencing, congress is merely obligated to state a legit legislative interest. (“The proper functioning of the IRS”, “Proper IRS oversight of the President”, “tax laws in the U.S.”. Or, how about, “corruption in the Executive Branch”, which has been specifically affirmed as a proper congressional function? Easy and done). And they have to refer anybody they hold in contempt to the justice department for prosecution (Now, that creates a problem when somebody like the AG is the one in contempt - he won’t be prosecuted. And, yes, that’s where impeachment (the only law enforcement power of the congress) comes in).

But this is doesn’t impact whether they can request tax returns pursuant to a law giving them that power, especially when the law is derived directly from their power of oversight over the Executive branch. This is PLAINLY constitutional.

Quote:
Apart from that, I'm surprised how many people here want Congress to usurp the role of law enforcement, given how often those people (including you) have noted the dangers of directly elected law enforcement - see Joe Arpaio, for one. Surely it can't be that it's fine if your side does it?
How is congress playing a law enforcement role? They would have to refer any prosecution for tax fraud to prosecutors for battle in the courts; this is an investigation/oversight role that congress is fulfilling.
  #127  
Old 05-14-2019, 01:00 PM
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It will be interesting to see if the conservative constitutional constructionists on the Supreme Court will adjudicate on the words of the laws or by some political affiliation to Trump.
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