Just as in those oater films of yesteryear, conservatives are busy circling the wagons around Primadonald lest some of his questionable if not bad behavior might be damaging and send him into a 3 AM Twitter rant chock-full of denials. You’ll get the flavor of, nature and extent of this “protection racket” from what follows.
Those tax returns and the Wyden bill
No one should have trouble remembering that the newly-elected president excused himself from making his 2015 tax return public because it was “under audit”. Of course, he never provided evidence of the latter claim (1), nor did he ease concerns by submitting returns for years that antedated 2015. Enter Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) who, this past September, authored a bill entitled the “Presidential Transparency Act” (S-3348). It called for the Congress to pass a law mandating that all presidential candidates offer up the documentation that Primadonald is still withholding.
Now it is understood that nothing moves through either congressional chamber with anything resembling a steady pace. But, the Wyden legislation was sent to committee on 9-19-2016 and has languished there since then. Such being the case, a plausible explanation as to why would hold that Congressional Republicans want it to die there given their man’s secrecy and total lack of transparency. Might we presume that they are as afraid of the contents of that 2015 return as the president-elect is himself? “Stay tuned” does not fit here as it is exceedingly doubtful that this proposal will ever get acted upon.
Dating back to the presidential campaign and moving forward, Primadonald has engaged in more “flipping” than the griddle cook at your local IHOPs.Consider the following list of his reversals which is by no means exhaustive:
+ The naming of a special prosecutor to investigate HRC, her use of the infamous private server and ties to the Clinton Charitable Foundation has morphed into a disavowal of any interest in pursuing that course of action.
+ A promise to repeal of Obamacare that has been followed by (a) no such plan; (b) a plan to save its best parts; and now (c) back to repeal (2).
+ An Executive Order to banning all Muslims from entering the US has been modified so that the word “Muslims” has been dropped, replaced by “people from dangerous countries” (3).
+ The notorious, wholly impractical “wall” to be built along the US/Mexican border will now be, at least in part, a fence.
+ The boast of rounding up and deporting all 11 million in the country illegally, has now been down-sized to include just the three million who have criminal records, a more plausible but still expensive proposition.
+ The repeated claim that the “election” and “system” are “rigged” has now been turned on its head as Primadonald goes ballistic over the fact that a recount will take place in Wisconsin if not Michigan as well. As an aside to this flip, Trump comes across as the first president-elect in US history to come off as a sore winner, who is still smarting over the fact that he lost the popular vote by almost two million (4).
Now, given this record of about-faces, where is the outrage from congressional Republicans and grassroots conservatives? Nothing from either group; not a peep, not even crickets.
Conflict of interest
Even before his election, thoughtful folks were looking at Primadonald’s multi-national business holdings and warning of serious conflicts of interest. This worry takes on added significance when it is understood that a few of Trump properties are located in some of the political world’s “hottest spots” (e.g. Turkey, India).
The problem here isn’t simply that when in the Oval Office, Trump might make decisions that would benefit him monetarily. If that were the case, any such gains could be challenged in court as a violation of the US Constitution’s “Emoluments” clause (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 8). Indeed, as a matter of fact, constitutional scholars, both left and right, have argued that if the new president does not either liquidate his vast holdings or place them in a blind trust, the Electoral College should withhold certifying his election (5).
House Democrats viewed this matter of sufficient gravity to urge the Government Oversight Committee to investigate these apparent conflicts of interest. Are they real and if so, how problematic? (6). Over in the Senate, Democrats there have just started working towards a non-binding resolution that would nudge Trump to promptly move towards the establishment of the aforementioned blind trust.
As of the date of this blog, conservatives in and out of office have said virtually nothing, again reinforcing the impression that rather than being critical of our new leader, they are being protective. But, coincidentally, Primadonald has said that he does plan to act though as usual, his promise is woefully short on specifics and a time-line.
Do not expect Democrats to just let this matter lay unresolved. They have leverage in the form of a court action to force Trump’s hand and threaten his presidency. Here is a place where “stay tuned” is most surely in order.
- Whenever a US citizen is audited by the IRS, that government agency sends out to the individual, official notification of same. Primadonald surely received one and could have used that as proof that he is truly “under audit”.
- Trump may well be back to a total repeal of the ACA. That would follow from his naming Representative Tom Price (R-GA) as Head of the US Department of Health and Human Services. This man has, from the outset, been an implacable foe of this legislation.
- President Obama’s use of Executive Orders to shape immigration policy was ruled unconstitutional by the courts, a bit of recent history that Trump ought to keep in mind.
- It is possible that the president-elect was hoping to win the popular vote to claim that he got a “mandate” from the “American people”. Not only will he lose the popular vote; his party also lost seats in both the Senate and the House. When it comes to a mandate, there is no “There, “there”.
- “Electoral College must reject Trump unless he sells businesses top lawyers for Bush and Obama say”; @ https://thinkprogress.org/electoral-college-trump-top-lawyers-bush-obama-8a8b6eOca916#mfdqsk8ha
- The need to investigate was called for in a letter to said committee dated 11-28-2016.