Thursday, May 9, 2019

HOUSE COMMITTEE VOTES CONTEMPT AGAINST TRUMP'S ATTORNEY AND CONMAN WILLIAM BARR - But they have nothing to say about Obama and Clinton's deals with Russia and Red China

House committee votes contempt charge against Trump’s attorney general William Barr

The US House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday afternoon to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for refusing to provide Congress with an unredacted copy of the Mueller report and other documents supporting the report’s findings.
The action came on a straight party-line vote, with 24 Democrats approving the contempt citation and 16 Republicans opposing it. The committee spent hours in debate, with Democrats condemning President Trump’s decision to invoke executive privilege to withhold the documents and Republicans denouncing the Democratic investigation as a step towards impeachment.
Trump’s assertion of executive privilege was unprecedented in its sweep. All previous presidential claims of executive privilege—even including Richard Nixon’s efforts to suppress White House tape recordings during the Watergate crisis—have involved maintaining privacy in communications between the president and his closest advisers, or keeping certain national security information secret.
Much of the Mueller report, however, concerns the 2016 election campaign, before Trump became president, and is thus entirely outside the conceivable scope of executive privilege. As for communications between President Trump and top aides in the White House, the subject of the second half of the report, which concerns Trump’s efforts to block the investigation, privilege was waived when aides such as former White House Counsel Don McGahn testified under oath to the Mueller inquiry.
During the debate on the contempt charge, many Judiciary Committee Democrats characterized Trump’s actions as unconstitutional and dictatorial. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas declared, “I can only conclude that the president now seeks to take a wrecking ball to the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington state said, “We are at a brink of importance between democracy and dictatorship if we ignore checks and balances. And I fully support holding this attorney general in contempt for refusing to comply with constitutional foundations.”
At a press conference after the vote, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler declared, “This was a very grave and momentous step we were forced to take today to move a contempt citation against the attorney general of the United States. We did not relish doing this but we have no choice.”
The executive branch, at Trump’s direction, was refusing to subordinate itself to legislative oversight, he said, noting that since the Democrats assumed control of the House of Representatives in January, “not a single page” has been produced in response to congressional requests or subpoenas.
“We’ve talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it,” Nadler said. “Now is the time of testing whether we can keep this type of republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government.”
The apocalyptic language raises an obvious question: if Trump is trampling on the Constitution and is hell bent on establishing an authoritarian form of rule in the United States—and he certainly is—then why do the Democrats categorically reject bringing charges of impeachment against him?
And why do they continue to seek collaboration with this “more tyrannical form of government” on a wide range of policies, from the federal budget, to immigration, to the projection of American military force in the Persian Gulf, the South China Sea and throughout the world?
The conflict between Congress and the White House is not merely partisan warfare in advance of the 2020 elections, but represents the breakdown of the institutional framework through which American capitalist politics has operated for more than two centuries. The structure of “checks and balances” has been undermined over a protracted period, with the president taking on virtually unchecked powers, both as “commander-in-chief” in foreign and military policy and increasingly in domestic policy as well.
In February, Trump declared a national emergency on the US-Mexico border, ordering the Pentagon to shift funds to provide the resources to build his border wall, in direct defiance of congressional refusal to authorize such spending. This was a flagrant violation of the most important constitutional power of Congress, the “power of the purse,” but the Democrats did nothing but file a lawsuit and warn that the next Democratic president might assert similar emergency powers to accomplish their own policy goals.
The Democrats may now protest that the president is assuming unconstitutional authority, but they do not come to the table with clean hands. Under the Obama administration, they endorsed the “right” of the president to launch a war of aggression against Libya without congressional sanction, and they applauded when Obama ordered drone missile strikes that killed thousands across the Middle East and North Africa, including American citizens.
Equally important, their “opposition” to Trump has from the beginning taken the form of support for a palace coup by the national-security apparatus, based on the allegations of Russian “meddling” in the 2016 elections. This reached the point of full-blown McCarthyite witch-hunting, with claims that Trump is a stooge of Russian President Vladimir Putin who does Moscow’s bidding in the White House.
The Democratic congressional leaders do not actually believe such claims, but find them useful in seeking to divert popular opposition to the Trump administration in a right-wing, pro-imperialist direction. And by hammering Trump on the alleged Russian connection, they have sought to push the administration to a more aggressive foreign policy in Syria, in Ukraine, and more generally against Russia. This has now found its most noxious expression in the preparations by the Trump administration to provoke a war with Iran—to which the Democrats would give near-unanimous backing.

New York Times Publishes Trump Tax Data Spanning Ten Years

American businessman Donald Trump standing on the ice of Wollman Rink in Central Park, Manhattan, New York City, October 1986. (Photo by Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
Ted Thai/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
 Washington, D.C.19,540

The New York Times has published the personal tax data of President Donald Trump spanning a decade’s worth of time from long before he was a candidate for president, saying the documents show that Trump lost more than a billion dollars in the timeframe of 1985 to 1994.

While not actual tax returns, the Times says the data includes never-before-public information from the tax returns–obtained from tax transcripts that glean data from the 1040 forms Trump filed with the IRS.
Times reporters Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig wrote in the piece published Tuesday evening:
By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir ‘Trump: The Art of the Deal’ hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns. Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition. The data — printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 — represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career — an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.
The lengthy Times piece goes on to explain how these documents show Trump, over that decade, reported losses totaling $1.17 billion in just ten years.
Buettner and Craig wrote:
The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade. In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years. Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years. It is not known whether the I.R.S. later required changes after audits.
In response to the Times investigation, Trump critics in the media and Democrat Party piled on quickly with criticisms of the president:

It is unclear who the source of these documents was, but some have speculated the Times hinted at who it might have been that leaked these documents to the newspaper:

The Times says it has been in contact with the White House about this information for some time.
“The White House’s response to the new findings has shifted over time,” Buettner and Craig wrote, adding this summary of White House statements:
Several weeks ago, a senior official issued a statement saying: “The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes.”
On Saturday, after further inquiries from The Times, a lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, wrote that the tax information was “demonstrably false,” and that the paper’s statements “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate.” He cited no specific errors, but on Tuesday added that “I.R.S. transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate” and “would not be able to provide a reasonable picture of any taxpayer’s return.”
Multiple ongoing battles remain over Trump’s taxes, and the Times notes that this information does not meet the standards or level of information that the Democrats in Congress are seeking to get.
“The new tax information does not answer questions raised by House Democrats in their pursuit of the last six years of Mr. Trump’s tax returns — about his recent business dealings and possible foreign sources of financing and influence,” Buettner and Craig wrote. “Nor does it offer a fundamentally new narrative of his picaresque career.”
There remains an ongoing battle in Washington over Trump’s tax returns, as Democrats from the House Ways and Means Committee in Congress have requested that the IRS provide them to the committee–efforts that have been rebuffed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. But that’s not all: The Attorney General’s office in the state of New York is also investigating Trump’s finances and has been trying to acquire various documents and information about the Trump Organization.
Buettner and Craig continued:
In Washington, the struggle over access to Mr. Trump’s tax returns and other financial information has sharpened in recent days, amid partisan warfare over the findings in the Mueller report. On Monday, the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said he would not deliver the tax returns to the Ways and Means Committee. And after vowing that “we’re fighting all the subpoenas” from House Democrats, the president has filed lawsuits against his banks and accounting firm to prevent them from turning over tax returns and other financial records.
In New York, the attorney general’s office is investigating the financing of several major Trump Organization projects; Deutsche Bank has already begun turning over documents. The state attorney general is also examining issues raised last year by The Times’s investigation, which revealed that much of the money Mr. Trump had received from his father came from his participation in dubious tax schemes, including instances of outright fraud.
Despite the new data that the Times has uncovered here, it is unclear whether there will be any actual change in public opinion regarding Trump on this front. Democrats have been attacking him for years over his refusal to release his tax returns, something no successful presidential candidate for decades has done, and leaks of parts of the president’s personal tax documents have already surfaced in years past. In 2016, the Times obtained part of the president’s 1995 tax filing via what it says was an anonymous source who mailed it to the newspaper–and journalist David Cay Johnston got part of Trump’s 2005 tax returns in 2017, also from a mailed source.

Matthews: Trump ‘Wouldn’t Have Won’ if His Tax Returns Were Public


On Tuesday’s broadcast of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews stated that if President Trump’s tax returns had been publicly known, “He wouldn’t have won” the 2016 election.
Matthews said, “He wouldn’t have won. That’s the catch-22. If the American people found out the guy’s prancing around with the airplanes and skyscrapers, and he owns everything in the world, golf courses all over the world, and he doesn’t pay any taxes, they’d say, that’s not fair. You can’t be our leader. I think even the people in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan would say, at the margin, he’s not my guy. My people pay taxes.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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