We have now officially reached the half-way point of Crooked Donald’s first 100 days and with his continued refusal to fulfill his oft-repeated campaign promise to release his returns once he was in the White House, the Internet has been ablaze with demands that IRS officials send Crooked Donald’s returns either to Congress or the media.
A bit of background: in 1973, when then-President “Tricky Dick” Nixon famously said “I am not a crook,” he wasn’t referring to Watergate but to the revelation his tax returns had proved what he had been denying for years, that he had illegally taken $500,000 in deductions to avoid paying taxes. Nixon’s tax cheating was came to light when a low-level IRS employee sent his returns to the Providence Journal newspaper in Rhode Island.
Since Nixon’s tax-cheating scandal, every presidential and vice presidential candidate (except for Crooked Donald) has released their returns, though they aren’t legally obligated to do so. Then again, Crooked Donald knows of the laws that provide fines and jail time for leaking returns, as well as current IRS policy that severely limits access to tax returns of both presidents and presidential candidates to a select few in the agency.
Thankfully some years ago Congress passed IRS “whistleblower” provisions allowing any IRS employee with access to Crooked Donald’s returns to release them to members of the Joint Taxation Committee if they determined it was in the public interest. In mid-February, Texas Tech law professor Keith Fogg wrote in Forbes that an IRS official with access could indeed leak Crooked Donald’s returns to Congress without facing a prison term or even a fine.
Fogg’s argument got a lot of attention—but this week New York Times columnist suggested a possible IRS leak is unlikely, because very few employees have access to Crooked Donald’s returns and that Crooked Donald’s Justice Department would likely prosecute, that whistleblower law be damned.
Well, maybe…but hey, with Crooked Donald promising major layoffs at the IRS, along with his plans to block the agency from investigating billionaires, plus given all the impeachment crap Republicans hurled at Commissioner Koskinnen (who has access to Trump’s returns until he leaves the IRS in 2018) truly anything is possible.