Apr 15, 2017

How Congress could get Trump to cough up his tax returns

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Hundreds of marches are taking place across the country today, pressuring President Trump to release his tax returns. So far, he's stubbornly refused — first claiming that he couldn't release his tax returns because they were under audit with the IRS, then claiming nobody cared about his tax returns and finally sending Kellyanne Conway to say, "It's not going to happen."

Why they matter: The marches only work if they put enough pressure on Congressman to join the efforts in forcing Trump to release his tax returns. So far, there are three ways Dems could manage to get Trump's tax information — through the emoluments clause, subpoena or a petition.

1. Emoluments Clause

Both the watchdog group Citizens Responsible for Ethics in Washington (CREW) and House Democrats are trying to get Trump's tax returns to see if Trump violates the emoluments clause by owning so many international hotels and resorts. The emoluments clause of the Constitution makes it illegal for federal officials to receive gifts from foreign officials.

Likelihood: CREW filed their lawsuit two days after the inauguration, but have an unusual claim, which might prevent them from making it to court. The last attempt by House Dems to push a resolution was blocked by Republicans at the end of March.

2. Subpoena

A Democrat's dream would be to get Trump on both Russia and his tax returns. As the House Intelligence Committee investigates Trump's ties with Russia, they could subpoena Trump's tax returns to look for signs of collusion.

Likelihood: So far, there are no signs of the intelligence committees requesting Trump's tax reforms, some Dems suspect this possibility is why Republicans refuse to have an independent investigator for the case.

3. Petition

House Dems are now pushing a "discharge petition" on a bill, which would require all U.S. presidents — including Trump — to disclose their tax returns or the Office of Government Ethics and the FEC can request the returns from the Treasury and make them publicly available.

Likelihood: So far, Mark Sanford and Justin Amash are the only two Republicans to cosponsor the bill, although Walter Jones supported the House resolution requesting Trump's tax returns as part of an emoluments investigation.

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Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Donald Trump loves Wall Street shenanigans. Companies owned by him have declared bankruptcy six different times, and he was once sued alongside Mike Milken for participating in a scheme to artificially inflate junk-bond prices.

Driving the news: Trump pardoned Milken this week, with an official statement positively gushing over Milken's role in developing the wilder side of fixed-income capital markets.

Situational awareness

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Roger Stone sentenced to 40 months in prison
  2. Top NSC official reassigned to Energy Department amid "Anonymous" fallout
  3. Morgan Stanley to buy E*Trade in $13 billion deal
  4. Coronavirus slams companies' 2020 sales projections
  5. Black activist group gives its first presidential endorsement to Elizabeth Warren

Roger Stone sentenced to more than 3 years in prison

Roger Stone arriving for his sentencing hearing. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone was sentenced Thursday to 4o months in prison for crimes that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering.

Why it matters: Stone is the seventh person to be convicted and sentenced for crimes unearthed by former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. His case has been at the heart of ongoing tensions between President Trump and his Justice Department.