Come on, admit it. Even if you continue to defend Donald Trump despite everything, aren’t you the least bit curious as to why he has never released his tax returns despite every candidate since Richard Nixon doing so and the accepted idea that those running for or serving as president need to be transparent to the American people so there is no gory speculation on what kind of weird shit our public servants are into? I mean, especially for a (in)famous business man who stakes his reputation on being some kind of financial wizard and specifically this man, who finds the need to tout the most banal of accomplishments (making up many of them) and regurgitating his most heinous fuck-ups like the post-Charlottesville “both sides are good people” nonsense about neo-Nazis to defend himself. And it is extremely odd when considering this guy spent two years chasing down then president Barack Obama to release his birth certificate to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was an American citizen.

It is all very, very strange.

Unless….

There is some really bad shit in there. I mean, catastrophically bad.

Because this is what people not in the bag for this president are left to think.

And, to be fair, this is against form for Donald Trump. He’s bypassing his usual braggart/knee-jerk/quick draw machinations to allow people to frame this gaping hole in his bio as anything they wish: a possible scofflaw or having ties to the mob or more Russian crap or perhaps tons of donations to Democratic candidates or left-leaning organizations despite his right-wing stances. Or, maybe he’s exaggerating his worth or financial successes. Maybe he paid no taxes at all. We can think anything is in there, because he is going to great lengths to keep the proof from us.

This is how public office works. It is not like big-time real estate, which is pretty much a shell game of rampant maleficence meets outright fraud. People mostly find out stuff about you. And it will happen to Trump.

The law is airtight on this, despite the stonewalling by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, whose job it is to hand over such requests by Congress as dictated by the Supreme Court in a 1975 ruling. It is just a matter of time. It always has been. Trump gambled rightly that a Republican House wouldn’t expose him, but his trouncing this past November all but guaranteed this confrontation, something Trump dealt with the morning after Election Day when he did what he did best: parade a pig smeared with lipstick and declared it the prom queen.

To wit, after jockeying during the primaries and even his run for office with his memorable line of spectacular bullshit, “I’m being audited, so I can’t release them,” he followed up for a few months with my other favorite: “They’re too complicated and cannot be fathomed by any person living or dead.” The last one was a paraphrase, but even that was more cogent than this ramble from early that morning after Trump got his clock cleaned in the mid-terms: “They’re very complex. People wouldn’t understand them. They’re done by among the biggest and best law firms in the country, same thing with the accounting firms, they’re very large, powerful firms from the standpoint of respect, highly respected, big firms, and great law firms. They do these things. They put them in. But people don’t understand tax returns. It is a very big company, far bigger than you would even understand, but it’s a great company, but it’s big and its complex and it’s (tax returns) probably feet high.”

From what I understand, the President hadn’t blown any Tai Stick or suffered head trauma before the above, but it still does nothing to make him look like he isn’t hiding something…. again.

And that leads us back to the original conclusion; Trump cannot release his tax returns and survive serious scrutiny, embarrassment, or worse. Period. So, we get stonewalling.

Thing is, Trump likes to run things like this whole charade is another wing of his disastrous business dealings—and if The New York Times revelations this week that he lost billions in the nineteen-eighties and nineties is any indication, then good luck with this—he is no longer a private citizen. He works for us, not Trump Enterprises. And the majority of us apparently would like to see his so-called business genius, or that if some of the stuff in the Mueller Report about his negotiating with Russians to build towers while their government was attacking us jives with his records. Polls range from 56 percent to 74 percent of Americans interested in seeing the President’s returns and nearly 80 percent believe it should be a prerequisite to run for office, much less govern. And even if Trump’s solid, unwavering 35 to 40 percent zealotry sticks with him, the rest of us living in the real world would like to see them.

But, for damn sure, Donald Trump doesn’t want us to.

Why?

 

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James Campion is the Managing Editor of the Reality Check News & Information Desk, and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus, Midnight for Cinderella, Y, Shout It Out Loud—The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, and Accidently Like a Martyr—The Tortured Art of Warren Zevon.

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