The lead Senate plaintiff in the suit, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said that the legal effort could force release of the president’s tax returns and other business documents during the discovery stage of the litigation.
“By failing to release his tax returns — reflecting payments and benefits from foreign powers — President Trump is thumbing his nose at the American people and the Constitution,” Blumenthal told my Washington Post colleague Tom Hamburger. “He is violating the Constitution by accepting foreign government payments and benefits without consent from Congress — which can’t consent to what it doesn’t know.”
But Trump hasn’t filed a tax return for 2017, which is the year he became president and the emolument clause began to apply to him. So even if we got his earlier returns, we wouldn’t know what he’s done since taking office Jan. 20.
As for the argument that seeing his returns would expose Russian connections, should they exist: I’ve written before, his old tax returns, should they ever see the light of day, are unlikely to tell us much about any possible personal foreign entanglements.
Those might show up, if they exist, in the filings of the hundreds of companies that make up the Trump empire. But Trump’s personal returns are unlikely to show them.
But seeing his old returns would tell us something especially relevant about a president who wants to radically reshape our tax code.
It would show us how much and in what ways Trump has personally benefited from the legal loopholes scattered throughout the current system. And what impact the changes he’s proposing would have on him personally.