*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Most people would go out of their way to help a close friend or family member, but it is likely they would stop short of helping their friend of family member cover up a crime or malfeasance, in whatever form it may take. There is a term, collusion, that means secret or illegal cooperation or a conspiracy entered into for the sole purpose of either cheating or deceiving others, or to cover up a crime.
Republicans know what collusion means, but they must consider Donald Trump much more than a family member because they conspired to help him conceal his corruption by aiding his attempt at keeping his tax returns out of the public’s eye. That is the same public, by the way, of which 74 percent want to see exactly what kind of, and how expansive, the corruption including ties to Russia is hidden in Trump’s tax documents.
It was just last week that a Democratic congressman, Bill Pascrell, sent a letter to the chairman of the House and Ways Committee, Kevin Brady (R-TX), asking him to invoke a 1924 law to order the Treasury Department to hand over ten years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns. The deal was the committee would first peruse the documents in private, and then if there were any anomalies that warranted further investigation, they would be turned over to the entire House and by extension the public.
Obviously, Trump is never going to release his returns of his own accord because they contain information that would not sit well with the people or Democrats in Congress; Republicans embrace cheats. Likely they would contain information exposing Trump’s corruption and financial ties to Russian mobsters, hidden accounts in a tax haven shared by Russian oligarchs, and all manner of sundry information Trump wants concealed from the public. Now it is crystal clear that Republicans on the Ways and Means committee are in collusion with Trump’s attempt to conceal his corruption.
On Monday, just three days after Mr. Pascrell appealed to Republican Brady to do the right thing by the people, Brady said no because doing so would “weaken taxpayers’ privacy rights.” However, it is really that Republicans just don’t investigate other Republicans like they do Democrats. Recall that just two years ago the same Republicans on the same committee ordered the Treasury Department to release tax documents when Daryl Issa conspired to create a phony IRS scandal that earned him a tidy pile of campaign contributions. Brady was not the least bit concerned about “taxpayers’ privacy rights,” just colluding with Trump to conceal his corruption.
The next day, Tuesday, the Ways and Means committee dominated by Republicans had to act on an amendment, offered by Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) to the panel’s oversight plan, echoing Mr. Pascrell’s appeal but it was shut down. The Republicans on the committee colluded with Trump’s effort to hide his corruption and voted 23 – 15, along party lines, to protect Trump from having his financial malfeasance exposed to the people. The vote put an abrupt end to any possibility of learning how extensive Trump’s corruption really is. Of course, Republicans didn’t say they were protecting Trump’s corruption, and instead dreamed up a bovine excrement reason for helping Trump avoid transparency.
A day after claiming not acquiring the tax documents was all about privacy rights, Brady said the (1924) tax code provision on the requests was intended only to make sure that the tax code is being properly administered by the IRS. That, of course, is a lie. He also said, “I strongly oppose this amendment because it proposes an abuse of the authority given to the Ways and Means chairman;” only because a Republican is the target. Republicans had no problem with “abuse of authority” when there was a phony scandal attempting to incriminate a Democrat in the White House.
Democrats on the committee argued that it is important to look at Trump’s tax returns to discover just how extensive his conflicts of interest are. The also said it was a matter of importance to national security. Particularly “in light of national security adviser Michael Flynn resigning following reports that he misled White House officials about conversations he had with the Russian ambassador.” Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) said “This is about our nation’s security,” and added that the people deserve to know about “Trump’s connections to Russia and whether the president is in a position where he could be blackmailed.”
Representative Pascrell made a more “typical” argument about the importance of seeing Trump’s tax returns; to learn how Trump will personally be affected by the impending “tax reform legislation” that Republicans, and Trump, will pass to enrich the extremely wealthy. Representative Pascrell said:
“The president and the congressional Republicans have been very vocal regarding their desire to enact comprehensive tax reform for this Congress. We believe that it is imperative to know and understand how such tax reform will benefit the president.”
One has to give it to Democrats; they offered perfectly valid reasons for why the Ways and Means committee should have ordered Treasury to turn over Trump’s tax documents, but Republicans aren’t interested in “valid.” They are only interested in colluding with Trump to keep his corruption out of the public eye. It is noteworthy that only criminals would conspire to “cheat or deceive others, or cover up a crime,” and by voting in concert to keep Trump’s corruption “secret,” there is no other way to frame the committee’s action other than Republicans colluded to conceal Trump’s corruption.
**The above article contains a news report with commentary by R Muse**