Do most fair-minded Americans really care what is in Donald Trump’s tax returns? Will that information help people stay healthier, get more educated, plan recreation times more cleverly, get children (honestly) into college? If Mitt Romney’s tax returns did not help people get richer, will Trump’s?
It and they will not.
There is no benefit that any reasonable, fair-minded person now will achieve for herself, her spouse, her children, her parents, or anyone else by seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns. There might have been a benefit when he first sought the Presidency — for example, to know whether he had financial interests that would conflict with his loyalty to America’s primacy — and the voters then could have rejected his candidacy in 2016 for that refusal to disclose. The matter was litigated thoroughly during the 2016 elections, and the voters chose him anyway. Perhaps if he had released his returns publicly, he also would have carried New York, California, Illinois, and Mexico. Maybe.
Well, probably not.
Trump was elected and now has been in office for more than two years. If the Democrats’ argument is that his tax returns of years ago will reveal financial interests repugnant to America’s primacy, consider first their main daily criticism of him: They attack him endlessly for using the motto “America First.” America First — what a beautiful sounding expression! America First. Yet they equate that term with White Nationalism, even Nazism. They hate terms like “America First” in an age when their darling Obama began his Presidency with a worldwide Apology Tour, seeking forgiveness for American exceptionalism.
By the way, America is exceptional and well en route to being even greater again. But what of Trump’s financial interests, laden deep within his returns? Would they reveal conflicting loyalties, even John Brennan’s accusation of “treason”?
Consider countries south of us: President Trump pressed Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA into the MCA, is ready to close the whole darned southern border. He has acted to cut off aid to countries like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador because of the immigrant caravans. He has reversed all of Obama’s giveaways to Castro Cuba. He is taking down the Maduro government of Venezuela. No, his financial interests do not impede him from standing for America First regarding our southern neighbors.
Consider Western Europe: He walks into a NATO meeting in Western Europe and tells the whole bunch of those gutless penny-pinching skinflints that he will pull America out of NATO if they do not start paying like honorable people instead of the pitiful prigs they are. They have money to pay blackmail to Abu Mazen (aka Mahmoud Abbas) of the so-called “Palestine Authority” to help fund his Pay-to-Slay program that pays lifelong family annuities, sent in monthly installments, to relatives of Arab Muslim terrorists who set off bombs and murder Jews in Israel. But the same Europeans are too cheap, pinching their francs and deutschmarks and liras and pounds, to pay for their own defense. So our President has stared right into their faces — on their home courts — and read them America’s Riot Act. And those stingy, miserly Europeans indeed have increased their NATO payments by some $100 billion. Meanwhile, he defied them and walked out of their phony, unenforceable, and one-sided Paris Climate Accord that Obama and Kerry tried to foist on us, and which would have imposed on America the burden of cleaning the world’s dirty air while those who pollute the worst would continue smoking their stacks from India to China with impunity. He defied the Europeans and walked out of the Iran Deal and slowly is forcing them to rejoin boycotts. He defied all West Europeans but the British when he endorsed Brexit, and then he stood up and said he is not impressed with Theresa May either. So, no, Mr. Trump’s financial interests in Europe do not compromise his primary fealty to America.
Well, what of the Arab Muslim world? Do his financial interests there compromise him? Come and hear: He moved America’s Israel embassy to Jerusalem. He recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He recognized the Golan Heights as part of Israel. He closed down the sinister American consulate in East Jerusalem that was America’s unofficial embassy to Mahmoud Abbas. He closed down the PLO office in Washington. He pulled us out of the UN Human Rights Council, a laughably misnamed assemblage of murderous and cut-throat dictatorships. He cut off funding for the bogus UNRWA, an anti-Israel UN agency that runs schools in Gaza and other such places where they use anti-Jewish texts and teach hatred of Israel. So, no, it does not seem that his financial interests in the Arab Muslim world have compromised his values and primary fealty to America.
Well, what of North Korea? What about all those giveaways that CNN and MSNBC and CBS-NBC-ABC-PBS and the Left print media said he would be handing over to Kim Jong-un? Well, ultimately he handed over nothing, walked out of negotiations politely, and still got hostages home, the bodies of our fallen Korean War heroes home, and at least meantime the nuclear tests have stopped.
Well, what about China? He has imposed brutal tariffs, thrown the Chinese economy into a tailspin, and finally changed the playing field and negotiating dimensions regarding not only trade with China but also how they treat us and our intellectual property.
And what of Russia and Putin? Is he compromised there? Russian collusion? Treason, as John Brennan called it? No. Rather, Trump has armed the Ukrainians to stand up to Russia in a way that Obama would not. He has jawboned Germany severely over an energy deal they have with Russia. He bombed Syria even though Putin’s military is there. He has expanded American energy exploration, making us a net exporter of energy, the best way to bring down what exists of the Russian economy. He has rebuilt America’s military mightily, with Russia one of the main targets of that build-up. Toby Keith, the country music singer, has sung about “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action.” That has been Trump’s record with Putin and Russia. On the one hand, it is Trump’s negotiating style to praise, pump up, and sweet-talk opponents in public — “my good friend President Xi,” “I really like Kim Jong Un,” “I believe President Putin” — and fair-minded observers know that Trump does not mean a word of it. It is a negotiating and marketing tactic known in legal terms as “puffery” (especially when applied to the North Korean Doughboy). Amazing, isn’t it, how the Left never believes anything Trump says, counts “Pinocchios,” calls him a regular liar, tallies his “lies,” claims that he lies all day — but the one thing they believe is that he really likes Xi, the Korean Doughboy, and Putin. In reality, those who understand Trump realize that it is exactly the opposite because his end game is less on talk, and ultimately on bottom-line action.
So why does any American now need to see Trump’s taxes? What will the returns show? That he made some of his money in a sketchy way?
For those who still have not yet figured this out, take it from a rabbi, an attorney, and a guy who simply “knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two”: No one gets to be a billionaire in the gambling casino business or in the construction industry without doing some sketchy stuff. OK? Now you know. But that was confidential information — Attorney-Client Privilege. So don’t tell it to anyone else. Shhhhh.
We all know he must have done plenty of sketchy business stuff. If The Godfather wasn’t enough, there was Godfather II and Godfather III and Casino. The gambling casino business is not Sunday School Bible Class or Challah Baking. Lots of people not paid on time, some not paid ever. Deals. More deals. Government licenses. Building inspectors. Over the table, under the table. Come on, let’s be obvious: For more than ten years, I practiced high-level litigation at two of the finest, most professional and skilled law firms in the world, Jones Day and Akin Gump. These firms handle the most wealthy corporations’ most important legal matters, multi-million-dollar litigations, cases that could break a major corporation. Donald Trump and his corporations can afford law firms exactly like those and surely has used law firms like those. Right? Of course right! So — uh — why on the planet earth would Trump ever-ever-ever also have hired a dimwit like Michael “Cash Cab” Cohen to represent him? To get better legal advice than he could get from Jones Day? To know that he was enjoying the highest ethical representation from a firm like Akin Gump? Gimme a break. He hired Cash Cab Cohen to handle sketchier stuff. Tape-recorder-quality stuff. The kind of stuff that can get stormy.
So we Americans already know all we need to know about Trump and taxes. And the American people elected him, intuiting the sketchy stuff. Because compared to his opponent, HilLIARy Clinton, Trump is clean as a whistle, more pure than Honest Abe himself. After all, really: Do we really need to see Clinton taxes to know what a liar she is? After the Rose Law Firm billing records, Whitewatergate, the Cattle Futures, Travelgate, all the “Bimbo Alert” defenses and counter-attacks, giggling about successfully representing a dirtbag who raped a girl, the lie about why her parents named her “Hillary,” the lie about her visit to Bosnia, the Clinton Foundation, the missing 33,000 emails, the lies about Benghazi and the YouTube video. After all that, did we Americans need to see her taxes to figure out she is a crook and an all-purpose liar? Her taxes did not offer a clue, but voters did not need them to figure her out.
Americans do not need to see Trump’s taxes, and the Democrats know it. Again, yes, there might have been a value in seeing them before the 2016 vote, and Trump consciously risked his standing with the electorate by refusing then to disclose them, but he correctly measured the core decency of the American people. The voters did not need Lois Lerner to help them figure out which candidate could not be trusted with our national security, our nuclear codes, and our common welfare. So the American people kicked her and her pantsuits off the stage, dragging her neck to the side exit with the hooked end of a cane, and elected Donald Trump.
Obama likewise was a dishonest player, deeply unethical. His real-estate dealings with Tony Rezko, a convicted felon, made him wealthy overnight. Obama’s wife got a very cushy six-figure white-collar job at a local hospital as he entered state politics. His campaigns for office always were marked by the curious disclosures of opponents’ messy divorce details. That is how Obama won his Illinois Democrat primary for the U.S. Senate and then knocked out his Republican opponent. His books tell narratives that have been exposed as false. He is not an honest man. Indeed, for all of John McCain’s political inadequacies on the national stage, and for all of Mitt Romney’s political failings, any fair-minded observer would acknowledge that McCain and Romney were light years ahead of Obama in the areas of personal business ethics. Tax returns do not enlighten public discourse.
So why do we now need to see Trump’s taxes?
There is yet one more consideration. One of the side benefits of the excellent first two years of the Trump presidency has been that we now have seen the value of having a chief executive who actually has been a serious chief executive, not just a community organizer (Obama) or a lifelong politician (Biden). Although both Michael Bloomberg and Howard Schultz stand for certain public policies that disqualify them as Presidential candidates for serious conservatives, the reality is that each would make an excellent President if his policies were more agreeable. Trump has proven that. A real chief executive who really knows how to manage and achieve proven results makes a better President than does a political hack who “plays the game,” slithers in the swamp, and trades favors up the ladder. But here is the thing: If we are going to scare away every serious chief executive officer with one tax-return demand after another, we will be hurting ourselves as a nation.
America managed without George Washington’s tax returns, Jefferson’s, Madison’s, Monroe’s, Andrew Jackson’s, Polk’s, Lincoln’s, Teddy Roosevelt’s. That covers Mount Rushmore, too. And of course we did — because we barely had any income taxes until the 20th century. For a year or so during the Civil War, Congress briefly imposed a small income tax. In 1894 the Democrats imposed a 2% income tax on the richest Americans comprising fewer than ten percent of all households. Finally, after the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913, further validated by Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad, 240 U.S. 1 (1916), the income-taxing authority could speed down the tracks. Our history thus reflects very clearly that a President’s taxes neither prove nor invalidate his qualifications. They do not reveal a Clinton propensity towards dishonesty. Nor would taxes have predicted Nixon’s susceptibility to Watergate, John Edwards’s failings, Gary Hart’s. Would taxes have disclosed what we now know about Amy Klobuchar psychopathically throwing hard objects at her employees and abusing them psychologically, or that Bill Clinton sexually abuses women and even probably raped at least one?
Unlike Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan, Donald Trump never voted for a Communist to be President. Donald Trump, at this point in the drama, never should release his taxes publicly. Not now, not ever. That train left the station the night that Martha Raddatz cried on ABC as she reported that Trump had been elected President of the United States. Since then, his every day in office has attested to his focus on America First. With all the facts of his past two years’ Presidency, his patriotism and fealty to our country can leave no other logical deduction.
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