On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments via telephone conference call on two cases that will determine whether or not a sitting president has to cooperate with oversight and investigative matters related to his business operations. In this case, that means his tax returns. And, as NBC News reports, the decision — which is expected in late June — will determine if indeed a president is, as Donald Trump and his attorneys maintain, above the law:
“While Trump says Congress has never before subpoenaed the private records of a sitting president, lawyers for the House say Congress has been seeking information about the public and private conduct of presidents for nearly 200 years.
“In the second case on Tuesday, the president’s lawyers will argue that a local prosecutor in New York had no power to seek a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s tax records from his accountants.”
Trump’s refusal to allow Congress or a district attorney look at his taxes has raised speculation about what exactly the president might be trying to hide. Some suggest it’s because he’s not nearly as wealthy as he claims, while others believe he may have avoided paying taxes through elaborate accounting tricks that may well be illegal.
One man who has seen those tax returns is Tim O’Brien, a journalist who wrote the 2005 book TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.
According to an op-ed he wrote for Bloomberg, O’Brien says there are all sorts of secrets in Trump’s tax documents:
“Trump sued me for libel in 2006 for a biography I wrote, “TrumpNation,” claiming the book unfairly and intentionally misrepresented his track record as a businessman and lowballed the size of his fortune. The suit was dismissed in 2011.
“During the course of the litigation, Trump resisted releasing his tax returns and other financial records. My lawyers got the returns, and while I can’t disclose specifics, I imagine that Trump is hesitant to release them now because they would reveal how robust his businesses actually are and shine a light on some of his foreign sources of income.”
What, you may ask, would that entail? Again, while O’Brien didn’t go into specifics, he did make sure and note that if a journalist being sued can gain access to Trump’s taxes, then Congress and the Manhattan DA certainly have every right to the returns, as does the public:
“If all of this information from Trump’s taxes, bankers and accountants was good enough for me over a decade ago, it’s certainly good enough for Congress and the Manhattan district attorney today. It’s also good enough for the American people. If we’ve learned one thing from the Trump presidency it’s that it’s no longer enough to rely on tradition when it comes to the Oval Office and financial transparency. Financial transparency should be a requirement for all presidents going forward — and the Supreme Court would do well to help pave the way.”
Donald Trump’s taxes are the key to understanding who he owes and who actually owns him and his company. They’re also necessary for voters to make a fully informed decision when ballots are cast later this year. If he’s allowed keep them hidden, it’s yet another step toward making the American president a monarch who answers to no one.