Chris Matthews: Maybe IRS Employees Should Start Leaking About Trump's Taxes

Posted: Apr 18, 2017 4:01 PM

Thankfully, we all know that nobody over at the Internal Revenue Service would ever dream of doing something improper to harm or violate conservatives' rights -- then lie about it -- so there's nothing to worry about, right?  Here's the Hardball clip, including a suggestion from one of the host's colleagues that perhaps illegal leaks pertaining to Donald Trump's taxes haven't seeped out because the officials preventing that outcome "might actually believe in the ethics of their job."  That may be truer today than was previously the case, as the need for partisan impartiality could feel especially vital in the wake of the targeting scandal. Via the Free Beacon:

What Matthews seems to be suggesting here is not that Trump's actual tax returns ought to be leaked (other liberal journalists have already done that), but rather that some agency official leak that the president's taxes aren't really the subject of an audit, which is what the White House claims. But is the White House wrong on that point? Allahpundit points to an abstruse provision that suggests Trump's spinmeisters may be correct, even if accidentally:

For the average taxpayer, the odds of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service are just 0.7%. Unless you're President Trump, in which case your chance of an audit rises to 100%. It's not just that his net worth and more than 500 partnerships make him a likely audit target under IRS policies designed to direct its enforcement efforts to the richest taxpayers. Under an obscure Internal Revenue Service rule, the tax returns of the president and vice president are automatically audited, every year, no exceptions. That rule has been in place in one form or another since the Nixon administration, and it details the process for auditing presidential tax returns in minute detail — even down the color of folder they must be kept in. Presidential tax returns have been subjected to that process for more than 40 years...

AP correctly notes that the mere existence of an audit does not prevent its subject from releasing his or her returns anyway, so it's not as if Trump isn't allowed to make his 2016 returns public.  He's once again choosing not to, invocation of a reversed campaign pledge.  As I've said dating back to the primaries, I believe that Trump should release a large tranche of tax returns (beyond one admittedly amusingcherry-picked year).  Setting a precedent under which voters cannot demand such disclosures from top presidential candidates is not a happy development.  People who support transparency in government shouldn't applaud efforts at opacity from their "side" if they'd condemn the exact same conduct from the other party. That's also why I'm an opponent of the Trump White House's decision to make visitor logs secret again (I was also critical of the Obama administration's cynical methods of bypassing their own transparency window-dressing); the excuses and justifications they've offered range from unconvincing to insulting.  All that being said, I'm not sure why liberals believe this is a salient political issue worthy of mass demonstrations.  For better or worse, voters didn't think that Trump's flip-flop and secrecy on his taxes were serious enough to be a decisive factor in November.  Why would this controversy galvanize any new opposition to him today?  I'll leave you with a decent bit of trolling by a Republican operative in Chicago who submitted an infamous formulation when a local television station asked about the issue:

I've said my piece about Donald Trump's tax returns.  The more relevant questions today pertain to President Trump's tax reforms.