The Trump White House is preparing to execute a multi-pronged, carefully-constructed war plan featuring coordinated action across a variety of agencies, and implemented with deep concern for secrecy … of Donald Trump’s taxes.
When it comes to United States foreign policy, or the lives of soldiers in the field. Donald Trump’s policy is nothing if not precipitous, conducted against the advice of his intelligence team and without consulting the military. The same is true on the great majority of topics, even “the wall.” Policy is what Trump says it is, at any given moment, in any off-the-cuff remark, and everyone else is left to scramble to the new position, finding an excuse along the way.
However, as Politico reports, when it comes to Trump’s taxes, there is no such thing as being too prepared. With Democrats in control of the House, the Treasury Department is expecting at any moment to receive a subpoena demanding the turnover of Trump’s fiscal details — or as much of them as he has revealed to the IRS. In response, the Treasury Department is unleashing its forces to Go. Very. Slowly. It plans to drag the request “into a quagmire of arcane legal arguments” that will keep Trump’s tax forms safely inside of a safe, inside of a safe, for months.
But that’s just the ground game. Trump officials are also planning to make the request for Trump’s tax forms into a top propaganda focus. That Democrats dared to ask Trump to produce forms that every other executive made public months before election is going to be turned into the biggest affront since the last time someone asked Trump to be honest about anything. Or since Devin Nunes revealed the horrors of “unmasking.”
The Plan to Defend Trump’s Taxes has reportedly been a critical topic — a genuine emergency — for “top political appointees and lawyers.” And the ultimate goal isn’t to slow Democrat’s roll in unearthing Trump’s taxes. It’s to never, never ever, turn them over at all.
And the core defense Team Trump has generated is so ludicrous that it just might work. Except … no. It’s still ludicrous.
The big barrier that is being constructed to prevent Trump’s taxes to be turned over to Congress is this: Congress is leaky. If Treasury coughs up Trump’s tax forms, then someone might release them. Which would be bad.
In fact, the scheme within the Trump White House isn’t to claim that releasing Trump’s tax forms would be damaging to Trump. The idea is to claim that if someone in Congress were to spill the beans on Trump’s Schedule C, it would be a crime. A felony. And since someone might commit a felony using the paperwork that Treasury is legally required to hand over, they’re not going to hand if over. Because it could spark a crime. It’s too bad they don’t have a similar feeling about firearms.
If this decision from the Department of Pre-Crime, Treasury Division, seems like just blatant flaunting of Congressional authority, that’s because it is. Without the window dressing, the actual strategy to defend Trump’s taxes comes down to “What are you going to do about it?” Congress has never faced a situation where the Treasury secretary simply refuses to provide requested information. Of course, someone might just dust off an unused cloakroom in the House basement and send the Sergeant at Arms to bring Steven Mnuchin to his new digs, but then, that’s exactly what all the planning is about. They’re creating a series of legal challenges that they expect Congress to address before Blofeld’s understudy has to risk getting a stain on his Savile Row slacks.
However, the strategy that Trump’s team is preparing has the same issue as any other complex, detailed strategy created in isolation — it’s unlikely to survive two minutes’ contact with “the enemy.” No matter how well Mnuchin and company feel they have this gamed out, Democrats don’t necessarily have to play. They could just start by holding people in contempt, and move up from there.
And there’s another factor. While it’s been widely assumed that the Mueller investigation has obtained Trump’s tax forms, there’s no evidence so far that this is true. No indictments, or witnesses, or court documents appear to be related to evidence that originated somewhere down a 1040. Since the special counsel has already demonstrated that he’s perfectly willing to use the authority on matters discovered during the Russia investigation to prosecute crimes such as money-laundering and tax fraud, the fact that Trump Organization attorneys — other than Michael Cohen — have not been lined up to either testify about Trump’s taxes, or face charges of their own, may be the best evidence that Trump’s tax forms have not been across Robert Mueller’s desk. Yet.
Although the partial immunity given to Trump’s chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg, whose testimony has also yet to be evident on anything visible to the public eye, might indicate that Trump’s time in the tax-fraud barrel is still to come. After all, no matter what claims may be launched around the pretense that Donald Trump is currently free from indictment on any crime, the same thing can’t be said about the Trump Organization. Even if it is 100 percent owned by Donald Trump.
Trump can always sit in the White House, uncharged, and watch as Trump Tower is auctioned away.