The imperial post-presidency?

After the Teapot Dome scandal, a law was passed giving Congress the right to order the Treasury department to turn over someone’s tax return. The purpose of the law was to allow Congress to investigate cases of corruption.

The law worked fine until Trump became president. For instance, in 1974 the Treasury department turned over a copy of Richard Nixon’s tax return as a part of the Watergate investigation. Unfortunately, the Trump administration refused to comply with the law, one of about 1000 reasons why Trump deserved to be impeached.

Now we have a new administration. Furthermore, Trump is now just a private citizen, so phony claims of “executive privilege” are completely moot. So there should be no problem, right? Unfortunately, Janet Yellen has continued Mnuchin’s unlawful policy of withholding the Trump tax returns.

If I were the House leadership, I’d tell Biden that there will be no infrastructure bill until he turns over Trump’s tax returns. Voters sent Biden to Washington to clean up the corruption, not to continue Trump’s blatant disregard for the law.



27 Responses to “The imperial post-presidency?”

  1. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    20. May 2021 at 12:23


  2. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    20. May 2021 at 12:29


    Saying ‘TDS’ is just a way for Trumpies to ignore the disaster of their dear leader. Started with Bush if I recall correctly…BDS, ODS, TDS, even CDS (for Hillary).

    Got an actual argument to make?

  3. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    20. May 2021 at 12:34

    If I were the House leadership, I’d tell Biden that there will be no infrastructure bill until he turns over Trump’s tax returns.

    Sure, the Democrats are shooting themselves in their own foot, blocking their own agenda, over a few tax returns.

    Unfortunately, Janet Yellen has continued Mnuchin’s unlawful policy of withholding the Trump tax returns.

    You must have a theory as to why Yellen is going to be a criminal, according to you, by breaking the law. Why would she even do that. How crazy!

    She must have been brainwashed by Trump, right? She is a Trump hack who obviously wants to protect Trump. These people are everywhere. And they will stop at nothing.

    It’s all one big conspiracy: Trump brutally fired Yellen so that Yellen could dig herself deeper and deeper into the Democratic Party so that she can now protect her best buddy. I always knew it. Oh my gosh, this Trump guy is so clever. Genius.

  4. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    20. May 2021 at 15:55

    Philo, In a post criticizing the Dems I get accused of TDS? Okaaay. . . .

    Christian, LOL, Dems aren’t going to block their own agenda. Still missing the point in my posts?

  5. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    21. May 2021 at 05:51

    Scott pretends to be stupid——he pretends he has no TDS because Dems will not do what he wants them to do. Although, given how Trump has “1000” impeachable offenses, it is interesting Yellen will not pursue. Demanding she do so is fine, if that is what Scott thinks. But he ignores the obvious —-as C. List implies—-why won’t she do it? That is what a real investigative person would want to know.

  6. Gravatar of David S David S
    21. May 2021 at 06:51

    Cyrus Vance has all of Trump’s tax returns. We’ll see what happens–although it will just demonstrate that the 45th president was a lazy, petty crook and carnival con-man.

    Of course, he’ll just blame everything on his accountant.

  7. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    21. May 2021 at 08:51

    Michael, First you tell me that I need to criticize Biden. When I criticize Biden you say I have TDS. What can I do to make you happy?

  8. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    21. May 2021 at 16:01

    The law in question is a bad one, an invasion of privacy, primarily usable for political purposes–as here. It ought to not to be invoked by those in power, and it ought to be resisted if invoked.

  9. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    21. May 2021 at 16:58


    Talk about TDS…you got it bad

  10. Gravatar of Dzhaughn Dzhaughn
    21. May 2021 at 18:23

    Your commentariat has lost it, Mr. Sumner.

    Decenter Executive Privilege!

  11. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    22. May 2021 at 05:52

    My recollection had been that his refusal to hand over his tax returns was one of the few things you agreed with Trump on.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    22. May 2021 at 08:42

    Philo, So let me guess, you believe that it’s the executive’s job to investigate corruption in the executive? How is that supposed to work? And the privacy argument is silly; the government already has the returns.

    TGGP, Well then, I guess you have a very bad memory. At the time, I said Trump should be impeached for not turning over the tax returns; they are needed for investigating corruption in government.

    But don’t feel bad, most of my commenters seem unable to remember my actual views.

  13. Gravatar of rinat rinat
    23. May 2021 at 09:17

    1. Fauci admits that the virus may have come from the Wuhan laboratory during “gain of function” experiments.

    2. China is threatening the entire global, and looks a lot like Nazi, Germany 2.0.

    3. Critical Race Theory, another Marxist beauty is once again attempting to place everyone into groups – this time by race.

    Yet, Sumner is worried about Trumps tax returns????? As if that is the big issue of the day???

    How about Amazon’s tax returns??? How about your tax returns??

    Why don’t you reveal your tax returns Scott, and then you can talk about revealing someone else’s.

    Kamala Harris told us for four years how she would go after Trump’s tax returns, and when it came time to file her tax returns she hid the details in a trust.

    The last thing this country needs right now is people like Sumner, calling on the IRS to breathe down the necks of businessmen who are trying to find ways to compete with low wage labor abroad, and under pretty heavy domestic regulation. Of course they are trying to pay as little tax as possible!

  14. Gravatar of Jonathan Jonathan
    23. May 2021 at 11:32

    I’m new here so I’m surprised to see an opinion that states lawmakers should follow the law is controversial.

    Rinat – Your arguments is a red herring, a false equivalence and at least partially incorrect:

    Philo -Feel free to just obey the “good” laws, right?

  15. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    23. May 2021 at 23:19

    Our statutes are full of trivial crimes with draconian penalties that are rarely enforced and can be ambiguously interpreted. I can’t believe you think it’s a good idea for the party in power to capriciously investigate and prosecute their predecessors for political purposes. You can be certain that if that happens it will spiral down into a nasty ongoing game of tit for tat.

  16. Gravatar of Peter Peter
    24. May 2021 at 17:33

    @dtoh .. bingo. That is why Bush didn’t go after Clinton for war crimes in Kosovo nor Obama go after Bush nor Trump after Obama. Whether it’s right or not “moving on” seems to be the preferred method and no administration wants to start that death spiral.

    “Voters sent Biden to Washington to clean up the corruption, not to continue Trump’s blatant disregard for the law.”

    LOL somebody is delusional if they think that is why Biden was sent to Washington. He’s about as corrupt as they come as with all career politicians. You don’t drain the swamp by voting in the swamp. Voting in Trump didn’t help either but at least we tried it. Maybe better luck next time. I mean Trump was the only US President in US history who wasn’t previously part of the swamp, maybe we will get it right a second or third time.

  17. Gravatar of Mark Z Mark Z
    24. May 2021 at 17:33

    ” Voters sent Biden to Washington to clean up the corruption, not to continue Trump’s blatant disregard for the law.”
    Where on earth did you get that idea. ‘LOL’ as the kids say. They sent Biden (and congress) to Washington precisely to throw money around a la the “infrastructure” bill. I’m certain that matters a million times more to voters than the former president’s tax returns.

  18. Gravatar of Dino the Isaurian Dino the Isaurian
    24. May 2021 at 20:36

    @ssumner I said Trump should be impeached for not turning over the tax returns; they are needed for investigating corruption in government.

    How are the tax returns for years before his presidency going to reveal corruption in government?

    Why did chairman Neal state “that the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of tax returns of all sitting presidents,” if the real purpose was investigating government corruption?

    Was Neal lying to obtain the tax returns? Or is your characterization incorrect?

  19. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. May 2021 at 15:59

    dtoh, Even if it’s not normally a good idea, Trump is just completely off the charts in terms of corruption, thus I’m willing to give the Dems a break in this case. In any case, I believe in the rule of law. The law requires the Treasury to turn over tax documents if requested.

    I’d add that presidents are special as they head the executive branch. If there is no outside authority investigating corruption in the executive branch, then they will be completely above the law. They aren’t going to investigate their own crimes. What if Biden started spending massive amounts of money that Congress refused to appropriate? Would you say that Biden should not be investigated because he is above the law? What if Biden gave China a sweetheart trade deal in exchange for a cushy consulting job for Hunter Biden? I bet you’d be demanding an investigation.

    Peter, Trump was not a part of the swamp? Politics sure is a helluva drug.

    Mark, I live in Mission Viejo, which Romney won by 20 points. Biden won last year. That’s a massive swing. Do you think all those affluent GOP voters switched to the Dems because they suddenly like big government, or because they were disgusted with Trump’s corruption? Biden won because professional, fiscally conservative Republican voters in the suburbs of Atlanta, Phoenix, Detroit, Philadelphia and Milwaukee switched to the Dems. I’ve met people like that in Mission Viejo. They were’t the majority of Biden voters, but they were the swing voters.

    Dino, Trump cashed in on all his business interests as president, and thus his pre-2017 investments are highly relevant. What’s his business relationship with Russia? Does that explain his weird praise of Putin?

  20. Gravatar of TMC TMC
    28. May 2021 at 12:38

    Yellen is just protecting the Democrats from further embarrassing themselves. We’ve had two impeachments already and have yet to find a crime. Could the children running the Democratic party really refrain from another?

  21. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    29. May 2021 at 02:15

    Honestly. The Executive Branch denies Congressional requests all the time. Both sides make assertions about the legality of these requests. Statue alone does not determine what is law. It’s a combination of statue and judicial decision. Either party can adjudicate these disputes in the courts.

    You believe that Trump is off the charts in terms of corruption. Half the country believes the Democrats are off the charts. We have elections to resolve the differences. The use of criminal investigations/prosecutions to attack your political foes is a terrible, terrible idea.

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. May 2021 at 08:06

    dtoh, You said:

    “We have elections to resolve the differences.”

    Replace “have” with “had”. Now it’s brute force that determines election outcomes. Remember that Trump and his mob of
    supporters tried to overturn the 2020 election. We have one political party that still believes in democracy and one where you are expelled from a leadership position for criticizing authoritarianism.

    If the GOP takes Congress in 2022, does anyone seriously believe Congress will not interfere in the 2024 election?

    As far as claims of executive privilege, that obviously doesn’t apply here because Trump’s tax returns are not government documents. Even a presidential administration as corrupt as Nixon’s felt he had to turn over the tax returns. But that was before we became a banana republic, no longer bound by the rule of law.

    “Half the country believes the Democrats are off the charts.”

    Hmmm, is that the same “half the country” that believes a conspiracy of CCP-supporting pedophiles stole the election?

  23. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    29. May 2021 at 13:21

    It has nothing to do with executive privilege. It’s a separation of powers issue. The Supreme Court already ruled once on this matter that the Congressional subpoena for Trump’s tax return was unconstitutional. The current subpoena is merely an attempt by Democrats to wordsmith their way around the previous Supreme Court decision, and they know it will meet the same fate as the previous subpoena if it gets adjudicated. This is pure politics by the Democrats that is being done for theater, and the liberal journalists who argue that there is any legal or constitutional basis for the subpoena are just performing their normal role as shills for the Democrats.

    And BTW ….. before you attempt to blame this on conservative Supreme Court justices, note that all of the liberal justices including Ginsburg concurred in the previous decision in favor of the President.

    And Nixon was totally different. In that case the taxpayer voluntarily agreed to release his returns.

  24. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. May 2021 at 09:18

    dtoh, I didn’t follow the case closely, but as I recall they ruled on a narrow technical question. I found this article:

    “In a separate case decided on the same day, the court also said that the House of Representatives could obtain a subpoena for Trump’s tax records, but struck down a lower court ruling in the Democratic-controlled chambers’ favor, saying the House must meet a higher level of scrutiny.”

    Doesn’t that suggest that Congress can seek the president’s tax records when researching corruption, as long as they meet a “higher level of scrutiny”?

    In any case, I think it’s very dangerous when a political leader is above the law. And yes, the Democrats are equally to blame on some of these issues.

    BTW, I understand that leaders of banana republics often prosecute former leaders, but that’s partly because those former leaders really were highly corrupt. I doubt Hillary Clinton was quaking in her boots when Trump said “lock her up”, she knew it was political theatre.

    The bigger mistake was that only a half dozen GOP senators were willing to convict Trump. As a result, all the GOP members of Congress cower in fear of Trump, and will do so for the next 8 years (I’m assuming he wins in 2024.) They were too cowardly to pull the bandaid off, and there’ll be a long agonizing personality cult to deal with.

    And that’s if Trump wins. If he loses in 2024, it’s quite possible that someone like Ron DeSantis could have won. A textbook example of a coordination problem.

  25. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    30. May 2021 at 13:58

    The court basically said that Congress could subpoena tax records if it was for a legitimate legislative purpose but that investigating the President (or any individual, or organization) was NOT a legitimate legislative purpose.

    Clearly there is a trade off between having a functional democracy and legal accountability for political leaders. The authors of the constitution thought (correctly IMHO) that putting Presidents in jail and leaving their fates largely in the hands of voters (and their elected representatives) was an acceptable trade off.

    BTW – I think you are somewhat conflating corruption with legality. There’s tons of corruption in the U.S. system, but most of it has been legalized.

  26. Gravatar of Nick S Nick S
    30. May 2021 at 20:40

    “ Doesn’t that suggest that Congress can seek the president’s tax records when researching corruption, as long as they meet a “higher level of scrutiny”?”

    And when they don’t meet a “higher level of scrutiny,” all you have to do create a fake dossier of “high crimes” and take it to a super just FISA court and use that “evidence” to spy,… I mean protect the nation from a Russian foreign agent…

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. May 2021 at 10:41

    dtoh, The law was passed after the Harding administration scandals were exposed, and the goal was to allow Congress to investigate tax returns so that future governments would not get away with this sort of corruption. And eliminating corruption may require legislation, so that’s a valid purpose. But heh, if the US wants to become a banana republic, there’s no stopping us.

    You mention “elected representatives”. How can they decide the fate of the president in an impeachment trial if he refuses to turn over the information that would allow for an informed decision? I really don’t get it.

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