As House Democrats continue to pursue President Donald Trump’s tax returns, the New York Times on Thursday exposed Trump’s desperate effort to prioritize his nomination of Michael Desmond as IRS chief counsel.
Trump broke repeated promises to release his tax returns during the 2016 campaign, and has continued to refuse to release them since taking office, making it clear that he has something to hide that he doesn’t want Congress or the American people to see.
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According to his former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump’s taxes are evidence of tax evasion and insurance fraud, and could even be evidence of money laundering and improper financial ties to Russia and other hostile foreign nations.
Cohen’s testimony gave Democrats even more justification to seek Trump’s taxes, which the Treasury Department has already been planning to keep from Congress.
Part of that plan apparently includes IRS chief counsel Michael Desmond, whom Trump nominated for the position after Democrats took back the House in November 2018.
The New York Times reports that Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to make Desmond’s confirmation top priority and that his chief motivation for doing so is because he needs lawyers in a position to keep Congress from obtaining his tax records.
President Trump earlier this year asked Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, to prioritize a confirmation vote for his nominee to be the chief counsel of the Internal Revenue Service, indicating that it was a higher priority than voting on the nomination of William P. Barr as attorney general, a person familiar with the conversation said.
White House aides insisted for months that the confirmation of the nominee, Michael J. Desmond, a tax lawyer from Santa Barbara, Calif., was a top priority after passage of the tax bill in 2017.
But the request by Mr. Trump, made to Mr. McConnell on Feb. 5, raised questions about whether the president had other motivations. For months, the president has seethed over vows by congressional Democrats that they would move to obtain his tax returns from the I.R.S. And this week, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, formally asked the I.R.S. for six years of the returns, using an obscure provision in the tax code to do so.
Desmond also once “advised the Trump Organization on tax issues before Mr. Trump took office” and “worked for a time alongside William Nelson and Sheri Dillon, who currently serve as tax counsels to the Trump Organization.”
So, Trump seems to have groomed lawyers to place in key positions in the IRS to act as his own personal protectors even though the law gives Congress the power to request and obtain tax records.
This makes it even more important that Republicans also demand the release of Trump’s taxes, which Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did on Thursday.
Trump’s action to shield himself by appointing known cronies to key positions should alarm and outrage the American people, an overwhelming majority of whom want Democrats to publicly release Trump’s taxes after they obtain them.
Knowing what we know now, they most certainly should.
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