White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley had harsh words for Democrats who want to see Donald Trump’s tax returns. Harsh, very incorrect words.
Gidley appeared on Fox’s America’s Newsroom on Monday, where host Bill Hemmer played a clip of Mick Mulvaney, currently the Acting Chief of Staff for the White House, telling him on Sunday that Democrats will never see the tax returns. Mulvaney had also said the issue was “litigated” in 2016, when voters saw Trump refuse to release his returns and voted for him anyway. This talking point not only requires a tortured definition of the word “litigated” it also ignores that if we accept that definition, then one could argue that whether voters wanted Democrats to conduct oversight of Trump was also litigated in the 2018 midterms, and the answer was a resounding “YES.”
Gidley repeated the “litigated” talking point, then added that Democrats had tried to “bludgeon” Trump with his taxes in the 2016 election. He added that “the public has no right to see those [tax returns]. Congress definitely doesn’t have a right to see the tax returns of a private citizen.”
Gidley is wrong on two points. One is the idea that Trump is a “private citizen.” He is not. He is a public official, and while there is no law requiring him to release his tax returns, he does not appear to have a legal shield if Congress wants to see them.
Second, Congress absolutely has that right to see a president’s tax returns. The law is very clear on this, stating “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives…the Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request.” Republicans can complain all they want that Democrats only want these returns to find something to embarrass Trump. Even if one assumes that’s true, it does not change that the law grants Congress this right.
Gidley went on to reinforce Trump’s desire to “never” release his returns, a position his lawyers are reinforcing. The deputy press secretary also sneered that as far as releasing the returns, “no matter what we do, it is never going to be enough…It is never good enough. Whatever Donald Trump does, they hate.”
Democrats hating everything Trump does would seem to be a good argument in favor of releasing the returns, if only to defuse the talking point that Trump must be hiding something. Assuming, of course, that he’s not hiding anything.
Watch the clip up top, via Fox News.