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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:20 pm 
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Putin could, perhaps, share with him some old Russian wisdom, such as "Silent can pass for smart".

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 4:48 pm 
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Frelga wrote:
Putin could, perhaps, share with him some old Russian wisdom, such as "Silent can pass for smart".

We have a similar one attributed to Abraham Lincoln: "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2020 6:44 pm 
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No Mary or Maryanne Trump though.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2020 6:24 pm 
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Subpoena for Trump tax returns heading back to Supreme Court after President dealt another setback

I think the headline is somewhat misleading. It is true that the resounding decision of the Court of Appeals rejecting Trump's latest arguments for why the New York District Attorney's subpoena for his tax records and other financial documents should not be enforced is temporarily stayed to give his lawyers the opportunity to ask the high court to review the decision and grant a further stay, but it is by no means guaranteed that the SCOTUS will agree to do so. Normally, I would say that there is almost no chance that they would, as his legal arguments are that bad. But given the politics of the matter, they might. It is most likely up to Chief Justice Roberts, as it would require 5 votes to grant a stay (though only four to grant review) and Barrett is not yet on the court and so can't vote on this.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 4:34 pm 
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The SCOTUS finally (after an unprecedented delay) cleared the way for Trump's tax returns to be release to the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. It will be recalled that in a 7-2 decision the court rejected Trump's arguments blocking the release last July, but allowed him to make no arguments. These new arguments were even less valid and were roundly rejected by the lower courts. Trump filed an emergency motion with SCOTUS back in October. Normally these kinds of emergency requests are addressed in a matter of days or weeks. It was not that surprising that the court waited until after the election to address it, but that it then waited another three-plus months is unheard of. Particularly since there was no viable legal arguments made, and ultimately there was no reported dissents from the decision not to take up the appeal.

Of course the tax returns will not be released publicly unless and until they are used as part of a criminal prosecution. I continue to rate this case as the most likely to lead to some kind of charges against Trump (or at least against the Trump Organization).

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 7:54 pm 
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What's happening on the Congressional side of this? As I recall, the Supreme Court sent that case back down to the lower courts for further consideration of the House's subpoena for Trump's tax information from the financial firm Mazar's. I don't remember the lower courts actually doing anything further.

Also, does Richard Neal's separate request to the Trump administration remain in force? As many here will surely remember, a 1924 federal law that's been used numerous times before requires the Treasury Department to turn over to the Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee (a position held by Neal since January 2019) any tax information he requests. In April 2019, Neal requested six years of Trump's returns. The Treasury Department just refused to comply.

(1) Shouldn't someone be prosecuted for that?
(2) Has the IRS under Joe Biden complied with Neal's request?

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Also, seeing this thread has bumped, I'm moving here the extra information I'd appended a few days ago to my last post in the "Trump's America" thread (where I dropped it to avoid bumping), since it's more appropriate in this discussion.

It concerns this recent column by Jonathan Chait in New York magazine:

An Ex-KGB Agent Says Trump Was a Russian Asset Since 1987. Does it Matter?

Chait got a fair bit of attention in 2018 for a column in which he asked whether Donald Trump might have been acquired by Soviet intelligence decades ago. A lot of people felt Chait was going too far; others like myself thought he was late coming to that subject. He conceded at the time that he felt there was only a small chance that the hypothetical he was considering was correct. However, in the past month, a new book by Craig Unger, American Kompromat, includes an on-the-record statement from a former Soviet spy now living in the U.S. that it's true: by appealing to Trump's ego and greed before, during, and after his 1987 trip to Russia, they got him to push Soviet talking points in the U.S. After Trump's return from Moscow, for example, he spent $100,000 on full-page ads in three major U.S. newspapers which called for the U.S. to withdraw its forces from overseas (e.g., from West Germany or South Korea). Now it's absolutely true that there are other reasons an American might call for such a withdrawal, but Trump had never advocated for that before -- and the former agent says the Soviets considered the ads to be the result of their work cultivating Trump.

(Mind you, the ex-Russian agent could be lying for various reasons of his own.)

But Chait goes on to say, as his title indicates, that even if it were true, few people would care. Sadly I think he's right, but I do appreciate that he explicitly notes the most undeniable example of Trump's collusion with Russia:
Quote:
One reason I think that is because a great deal of incriminating information was confirmed and very little in fact changed as a result. In 2018, Buzzfeed reported, and the next year Robert Mueller confirmed, explosive details of a Russian kompromat operation. During the campaign, Russia had been dangling a Moscow building deal that stood to give hundreds of millions of dollars in profit to Trump, at no risk. Not only did he stand to gain this windfall, but he was lying in public at the time about his dealings with Russia, which gave Vladimir Putin additional leverage over him. (Russia could expose Trump’s lies at any time if he did something to displease Moscow.)

Mueller even testified that this arrangement gave Russia blackmail leverage over Trump. But by the time these facts had passed from the realm of the mysterious to the confirmed, they had become uninteresting.

I would only add that in order for that Moscow construction deal to move forward, U.S. sanctions on various Russian banks and individuals would have to be lifted, and that Trump attempted to lift those sanctions early in 2017.

I also like Chait's point that Russia was to some degree thwarted because, even if they had Trump, they didn't have anybody else, or at least nobody who could do much to enact what Russia wanted from him, and Trump was too incompetent to figure out himself how to make it happen:

"The truth, I suspect, was simultaneously about as bad as I suspected, and paradoxically anticlimactic. Trump was surrounded by all sorts of odious characters who manipulated him into saying and doing things that ran against the national interest. One of those characters was Putin. In the end, their influence ran up against the limits that the character over whom they had gained influence was a weak, failed president."

But man, there is a segment of the public, at least online, and from both sides of the aisle, that hates these stories. When Chait tweeted a short excerpt from his article, I scrolled through the many replies, and at least 90% of them were hostile. Lots of people believe that the Trump-Russia scandal is just a liberal conspiracy theory (never mind what Robert Mueller put in his report and testified to Congress). They see it as an irrational obsession: "You know you don’t need to wake up everyday afraid of Trump and Russia. I promise you there is more to life." (Mind you, Chait hasn't written about this for many months.) They even compare it to QAnon! They call it "BlueAnon."


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:56 pm 
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This is the most recent information that I am aware of on the House subpoenas, from a month ago today.

Trump Tax Returns Remain Target of Congressional Democrats

As for the question of whether the Biden administration will just turn over the tax returns without a court order and without agreement from Trump's team (which of course will never happen), that is another question that will need to be addressed by He-Who-Is-Finally-Getting-A-Senate-Justice-Committee-Hearing-Today. But I guess that the answer is no, they won't turn them over without a court order, nor should they.

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(1) Shouldn't someone be prosecuted for that?


No.

As for Chait's article, as usual he goes way too far, but comparing his claims to QAnon is as bad a case of false equivalency as I could imagine.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:50 pm 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
As for the question of whether the Biden administration will just turn over the tax returns without a court order and without agreement from Trump's team (which of course will never happen), that is another question that will need to be addressed by He-Who-Is-Finally-Getting-A-Senate-Justice-Committee-Hearing-Today. But I guess that the answer is no, they won't turn them over without a court order, nor should they.

Where's the exception in 26 U.S. Code § 6103 that says that the IRS Secretary Charles Rettig had the option of not complying in this case because Chairman Neal's request was for President Trump's returns? The 1924 law was written specifically because the IRS had refused to give tax information about top government officials to Congress. It says "shall" not "may." There's no interpretative wiggle room that I can see (this is part (f)):
Quote:
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

Neal's request was very carefully written to comply with this language, and to me, it looks like Rettig broke this law, and I don't see why he should go unpunished.

I'm generally in favor of merciful application of the law, but the more powerful a person is, the more accountability they should face. That said, let me anticipate one potentially very serious problem with my position: so far, I don't see any language indicating what the punishment is for breaking this law. "Stop, or I'll say 'stop' again!"


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2021 11:37 pm 
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Remember Trump's statement on McConnell, and how clear it was that someone else wrote it? Trump definitely wrote this one himself.

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This investigation is a continuation of the greatest political Witch Hunt in the history of our Country, whether it was the never ending $32 million Mueller hoax, which already investigated everything that could possible be investigation, "Russia Russia Russia," where there was a finding of "No Collusion," or two ridiculous "Crazy Nancy" inspired impeachment attempts where I was found NOT GUILTY. It just never ends!

So now, for more than two years, New York City has been looking at almost every transaction I've ever done, including seeking tax returns which were done by among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S. The Tea Party was treated far better by the IRS than Donald Trump. The Supreme Court never should have let this "fishing expedition" happen, but they did. This is something which has never happened to a President before, it is all Democrat-inspired in a totally Democrat location, New York City and State, completely controlled and dominated by a heavily reported enemy of mine, Governor Andrew Cuomo. These are attacks by Democrats willing to do anything to stop the almost 75 million people (the most votes, by far, ever gotten by a sitting president) who voted for me in the election—an election which many people, and experts, feel that I won. I agree!

The new phenomenon of "headhunting" prosecutors and AGs—who try to take down their political opponents using the law as a weapon—is a threat to the very foundation of our liberty. That's what is done in third world countries. Even worse are those who run for prosecutorial or attorney general offices in far-left states and jurisdictions pledging to take out a political opponent. That's fascism, not justice—and that is exactly what they are trying to do with respect to me, except that the people of our Country won't stand for it.

In the meantime, murders and violent crime are up in New York City by record numbers, and nothing is done about it. Our elected officials don't care. All they focus on is the persecution of President Donald J. Trump.

I will fight on, just as I have, for the last five years (even before I was successfully elected), despite all of the election crimes that were committed against me. We will win!

https://www.newsweek.com/read-donald-tr ... ns-1571123

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 12:40 am 
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Oh good lord. :bang: Yup, he definitely wrote that himself. He always refers to himself in the 3rd person. I just want him to go away...

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:10 am 
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N.E. Brigand wrote:
Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
As for the question of whether the Biden administration will just turn over the tax returns without a court order and without agreement from Trump's team (which of course will never happen), that is another question that will need to be addressed by He-Who-Is-Finally-Getting-A-Senate-Justice-Committee-Hearing-Today. But I guess that the answer is no, they won't turn them over without a court order, nor should they.

Where's the exception in 26 U.S. Code § 6103 that says that the IRS Secretary Charles Rettig had the option of not complying in this case because Chairman Neal's request was for President Trump's returns? The 1924 law was written specifically because the IRS had refused to give tax information about top government officials to Congress. It says "shall" not "may." There's no interpretative wiggle room that I can see (this is part (f)):
Quote:
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

Neal's request was very carefully written to comply with this language, and to me, it looks like Rettig broke this law, and I don't see why he should go unpunished.

I'm generally in favor of merciful application of the law, but the more powerful a person is, the more accountability they should face. That said, let me anticipate one potentially very serious problem with my position: so far, I don't see any language indicating what the punishment is for breaking this law. "Stop, or I'll say 'stop' again!"


As I am sure that you are aware, there are different kinds of "laws". Some are expressly criminal statutes that have no other purpose than to establish what are crimes, and what the potential punishment for those crimes are. Others are not expressly criminal statutes, but still provide specific punishments for violations of the duties or prohibitions. Most, however, do not provide any punishment for not doing the things that they require (or doing the things they prohibit). There are still circumstances where someone can be punished for violating such statutes (usually by holding the person in contempt) but that is (and should be) rarely done). In this case, Mnuchin was following a legal guidance issued by the Justice Department that made (despite the inclusion of the word "shall" in the relevant subsection, (f)(1) ("upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request ...") what I consider to be a cognizable argument. I believe the argument is flatly wrong, but it is at least a cognizable argument (unlike the arguments made by the attorneys representing Trump and the others challenging the 2020 election, for instance). That is why I do not believe that anyone should have been prosecuted for failing to turn over the tax returns.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:01 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
N.E. Brigand wrote:
Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
As for the question of whether the Biden administration will just turn over the tax returns without a court order and without agreement from Trump's team (which of course will never happen), that is another question that will need to be addressed by He-Who-Is-Finally-Getting-A-Senate-Justice-Committee-Hearing-Today. But I guess that the answer is no, they won't turn them over without a court order, nor should they.

Where's the exception in 26 U.S. Code § 6103 that says that the IRS Secretary Charles Rettig had the option of not complying in this case because Chairman Neal's request was for President Trump's returns? The 1924 law was written specifically because the IRS had refused to give tax information about top government officials to Congress. It says "shall" not "may." There's no interpretative wiggle room that I can see (this is part (f)):
Quote:
Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request, except that any return or return information which can be associated with, or otherwise identify, directly or indirectly, a particular taxpayer shall be furnished to such committee only when sitting in closed executive session unless such taxpayer otherwise consents in writing to such disclosure.

Neal's request was very carefully written to comply with this language, and to me, it looks like Rettig broke this law, and I don't see why he should go unpunished.

I'm generally in favor of merciful application of the law, but the more powerful a person is, the more accountability they should face. That said, let me anticipate one potentially very serious problem with my position: so far, I don't see any language indicating what the punishment is for breaking this law. "Stop, or I'll say 'stop' again!"


As I am sure that you are aware, there are different kinds of "laws". Some are expressly criminal statutes that have no other purpose than to establish what are crimes, and what the potential punishment for those crimes are. Others are not expressly criminal statutes, but still provide specific punishments for violations of the duties or prohibitions. Most, however, do not provide any punishment for not doing the things that they require (or doing the things they prohibit). There are still circumstances where someone can be punished for violating such statutes (usually by holding the person in contempt) but that is (and should be) rarely done). In this case, Mnuchin was following a legal guidance issued by the Justice Department that made (despite the inclusion of the word "shall" in the relevant subsection, (f)(1) ("upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request ...") what I consider to be a cognizable argument. I believe the argument is flatly wrong, but it is at least a cognizable argument (unlike the arguments made by the attorneys representing Trump and the others challenging the 2020 election, for instance). That is why I do not believe that anyone should have been prosecuted for failing to turn over the tax returns.

Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to write this out.

My position is this: the presumption of regularity went out the window when Donald Trump became president, and everyones's default assumption should be that all explanations for actions taken by the executive branch of the federal government with respect to Donald Trump himself from January 2017 through January 2021 were pretextual falsehoods. (This was also sometimes the case in matters not direclty touching on Trump, as in the census litigation.) Steven Mnuchin should have assumed that the Dept. of Justice guidance claiming that Neal shouldn't get the returns was untrue. The rest of us knew it was a fig leaf at best!

A further thought: this whole situation goes back to my earlier grumbling about whether there was wrongdoing by anyone at SDNY. Trump is complaining about New York state investigating his taxes. Why didn't the federal prosecutors in New York do this? The most charitable explanation I can think of is that they feared that if they did so, the attorney general would shut it down.

That said, Cy Vance himself has a bit of a reputation for backing off investigations of the rich and powerful. Eventually that became impossible in this case. History may find this redeeming quality in Trump's presidency: his behavior was so egregious that it exposed flaws in our system that otherwise would have continued to go uncorrected. Here's hoping.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 2:58 pm 
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N.E. Brigand wrote:
History may find this redeeming quality in Trump's presidency: his behavior was so egregious that it exposed flaws in our system that otherwise would have continued to go uncorrected. Here's hoping.


And I see absolutely no evidence that any of those flaws or holes are being corrected now. Trump may start to be prosecuted, but the HOLES are still all there, and being roundly denied or excused by Republicans. They didn't even hold him accountable for the insurrection, even when standing there flat out saying "Yep, he did it, guilty as hell. But we voted to acquit anyway."

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:29 pm 
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It's terribly frustrating. It's a broken system. The Atlantic article was a good one. Many things do not survive a narcissist.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:39 pm 
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There are always going to be holes. The whole system is predicated on the idea that the people who run it believe in it, and there's not a lot the law can do to stop leaders who act in bad faith.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:45 pm 
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Well said Dave, but opening the door for outright lies and insurrection and the refusal to address that is pretty bottom of the barrel stuff.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:40 pm 
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N.E. Brigand wrote:
My position is this: the presumption of regularity went out the window when Donald Trump became president, and everyones's default assumption should be that all explanations for actions taken by the executive branch of the federal government with respect to Donald Trump himself from January 2017 through January 2021 were pretextual falsehoods. (This was also sometimes the case in matters not direclty touching on Trump, as in the census litigation.) Steven Mnuchin should have assumed that the Dept. of Justice guidance claiming that Neal shouldn't get the returns was untrue. The rest of us knew it was a fig leaf at best!


While I respect and understand why you say that, my position is different. The 'presumption of regularity' (as you call it), needs to be stronger, not weaker, as a result of Trump's presidency. We can not allow our values to be compromised by those who have compromised values. And with regard specifically to the tax return issue, I don't find it as clear cut as some. While it true that under the normal rules of statutory construction, if the language of the statute is unambiguous one should not look beyond the language of the statute, and the meaning of the word "shall" is pretty unambiguous, I think there is some validity to the Trump Justice Department argument that the necessity of a valid legislative purpose is implied in the statute. And the legislative purpose that Congressman Neil asserted -- that they needed Trump's tax returns in order to review the IRS's auditing functions -- was clearly specious and pretextual. They wanted the tax returns to find out what it was that Trump was trying so hard to hide, in order to make him look bad. And that really is not a valid legislative purpose.

Quote:
A further thought: this whole situation goes back to my earlier grumbling about whether there was wrongdoing by anyone at SDNY. Trump is complaining about New York state investigating his taxes. Why didn't the federal prosecutors in New York do this? The most charitable explanation I can think of is that they feared that if they did so, the attorney general would shut it down.


From all accounts that I have been able to follow, federal prosecutors in New York absolutely have conducted extensive investigations into Trump and the Trump Organization. Whether that investigation was sufficiently robust, and whether the decision to apparently not seek charges against Trump (while still leaving open the possibility of charges against the Trump Organization), is beyond my ability to assess. And, I would argue, beyond that of the people who seem to be willing nonetheless to express an opinion about it.

That is not to say that prosecutors in the SDNY should not be called into account when there is clear evidence of malfeasance.

Federal Judge Urges DOJ Investigation into ‘Grave Derelictions of Prosecutorial Responsibility’ by SDNY Prosecutors

Quote:
That said, Cy Vance himself has a bit of a reputation for backing off investigations of the rich and powerful. Eventually that became impossible in this case. History may find this redeeming quality in Trump's presidency: his behavior was so egregious that it exposed flaws in our system that otherwise would have continued to go uncorrected. Here's hoping.


Cy Vance is very much a politician. But his term of office ends this year and he is reportedly not likely to run for reelection. There are 8 announced candidates (all Democrats in the highly blue area) and they are all (I believe) experienced prosecutors. At a recent virtual debate none would answer the question of whether they would prosecute Trump, nor should they have.

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