Why would Congress make Trump's tax returns public?

I understand the needs for Congress to get Trump’s tax returns. But how could they justify making them public? I read they will be voting on whether to do that today (Dec 20).

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see them published. I just don’t understand the rationale.

Hopefully because there are things in there that will further increase public support for his prosecution.

Because most US presidents already do it as a courtesy since they have nothing to hide. Trump promised to release his tax returns and then never did claiming he was under IRS audit. He could have released them years ago if he wanted to. Perhaps he’s hiding something he doesn’t want the American people to see, but that’s just a wild ass guess.

the committee will give their decision around 3pm today… this year’s solstice just keeps getting better!

There was a live feed but I think it just shut down as they cleared the room.

Because Fuck 'em. That’s why.

(I don’t think they have any rationale beyond that I’m ok with that)

I thought they were legally enjoined from releasing them. For the committee’s eyes only, sort of thing.

Tell ya this–if they have no legal reason to keep them under wraps, and they decide for reasons of taste or decorum or dignity or some other bullshit not to release them, it will go very bad for them.

That’s quite a sad phrase, isn’t it?

I’m no fan of Trump, and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if his returns show evidence of malfeasance or even outright fraud. If the committee doesn’t have a valid legal basis to release the returns, they shouldn’t. It would be easy to release them; that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

Yes. I was kind of waiting for them to leak.

What would constitute “a legal basis”? Until found guilty in a court of law, he’s innocent as a fetal lamb.

I mean, even if he’s scrawled “$$$ for Vlad bots in '16 Election” under “expenses,” it still has to be proven to a jury’s unanimous satisfaction before you can say he’s broken the law.

" * Almost immediately after Representative Richard E. Neal, the committee chairman, began the hearing at 3 p.m., the committee went into a closed session to debate the public release of Mr. Trump’s tax documents, so it could be hours before there’s a vote. And then it could take some time after that for anything to be released."

I’m still looking around, but I think this is going to be a slow one.

In general, is Congress prohibited from making public information which they have gained through subpoenas in the course of Congressional investigations? If not, then, given that Congress is already on record as believing that Trump ought to be prosecuted for multiple felonies, I don’t see why they would be concerned about his privacy.

That would raise the question of why the IRS didn’t nail him (or at least refer him to DOJ), wouldn’t it?

I don’t know what would be a legal basis for releasing the returns; I’m not a lawyer. I don’t think he necessarily has to be convicted of a crime, first. The January 6th Committee looked at evidence and interviewed witnesses, and based on what they learned they interviewed more witnesses, etc., eventually leading to public hearings and testimony. Trumps taxes could follow a similar course.

As I said, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t know what grounds the Ways and Means Committee used to get access to the records, or what they’re allowed to with them. But using official channels to get access to Trump’s returns, and then making them public just to embarrass Trump seems unethical. No one should use their powers of office just to smear a political opponent.

Trump isn’t merely their political opponent, though. Their goal is not to harm Trump politically. It is to inform the general public about his crimes (and other suspicious activity). If they don’t release it, then they’re effectively saying he was on the up and up.

Which I guess is fine if he was. But, given his unwillingness to share and his own penchant for shady practices, it seems unlike there’s nothing hinky in his tax returns.

Well, that’s the debate, isn’t it? It’s not simply to embarrass him.

There’s the legitimate question of whether or not a public figure, which Trump clearly is at this point, has major debts or other financial entanglements, especially to foreign powers or just scummy people in general, and how these may affect their judgment and behavior if placed in a position of power.

Ideally, such people would release such records themselves, as all candidates for POTUS have done for decades now, or we would enact legislation to require such of all candidates. But we are far from an ideal world.

That said, optics matter and privacy also matters. It is true that just because there is no legal obligation to keep them private should not mean the committee should feel emboldened to release them at will. I can see why there may be a protracted and perhaps contentious debate. And it’s one which has not really come up in the past because candidates recognized it was in their own best interest and that of the nation to release such records themselves. Again, we don’t live in an ideal world.

Why would Congress make Trump’s tax returns public?

Entertainment value? To reward everyone for the last six or seven years?


As I said in one of the Pit threads, I wonder if his income tax records contain evidence regarding Trump Org’s payroll and/or property tax shenanigans.

You can start from the premise that, absent some compelling reason to the contrary, everything Congress does should be made public knowledge. The question then becomes whether there’s any compelling reason to not release the tax returns. Trump’s personal privacy might be a reason, but is it a compelling one?

If the Ways and Means Committee wants to punish a lawbreaker, they would give the returns to someone who can build a case and prosecute Trump. The only point of releasing them to the public is to harm Trump politically.