The House Ways and Means Committee published former President Donald Trump’s tax returns last month. The tax returns indicate that Donald Trump had foreign bank accounts from 2015 to 2020. One foreign account, connected to Trump International Hotels Management, was located in China from 2015 to 2017. Donald Trump also had business dealings in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, South Korea, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.
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Did Donald Trump Commit a Crime?
MSNBC’s Richard W. Painter, an attorney, is up in arms over the revelation. “The drafters of our Constitution were well aware of the threat of foreign influence over U.S. office holders when they wrote the Emolument Clause, which prohibits anyone holding a position of trust with the United States government receiving any emoluments – i.e. profits and benefits – from any foreign state.”
Painter has reason to be irritated – he was involved in a lawsuit against Trump that alleged breaches of the emoluments clause. But the cases stalled in the courts over questions of standing (in order to sue, a plaintiff must have standing).
“The protracted battles delayed discovery in these cases,” Painter wrote, “meaning nobody was able to find out where Trump and his companies were getting their money from.” When discovery finally did begin, Trump was leaving office – so the Supreme Court dismissed lingering Emolument Clause causes as moot. “We never did find out which foreign governments were paying Trump while he was in office and how much,” Painter said.
I don’t know if Trump was receiving funds from foreign governments. And by his own admission (above), Painter doesn’t either.
Although Painter implies that Trump most certainly was receiving payments from foreign governments. If that were true it would be highly concerning. But I’ve grown to be skeptical of any claims of pronounced wrongdoing against Trump published in MSNBC or comparable outlets.
The left-wing press has been “crying Wolf” on Trump for eight years now. I’m receptive to the idea that Trump was susceptible, through his business dealings, to the influence of foreign governments. But you’ve gotta show me something. I’m not just going to accept the accusation as fact if you say it enough times.
Will Tax Returns Offer Insight?
Painter openly wishes Trump’s tax returns had been made available sooner, while Painter was actually suing Donald Trump for breach of the Emolument Clause. “Trump’s tax returns would have given us a lot more information than we had at the time about his business dealings with foreign nations, including foreign governments.
These returns, and other financial information about the Trump’s Organizations’ foreign business dealings, and his foreign bank accounts, should have been available to Congress at the beginning of 2017, not gradually leaked out over the course of the Trump administration,” Painter said.
Well, the tax returns are out now, and Painter is still talking about Trump’s surreptitious ties to Russia. You know, the ties Democrats have been hanging their hat on since losing the 2016 election; the ties for which Trump was impeached and acquitted.
Again, you have to show me something. Telling me, again, about how Trump had planned to build a Trump Tower in Moscow isn’t enough to convince me that Putin was blackmailing Trump, or Xi had converted Trump into a Chinese puppet, or whatever else they’re peddling on MSNBC.
The US should vigilantly guard against foreign influence over U.S. elected officials. And the press plays an important role in that vigilance. But the endless speculation is not helpful. Trump’s tax returns are out now. Show me something illegal or move on.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.