The concerns regarding Donald Trump’s conflicts of interests seem to have reached a fever pitch a day after his inauguration, with more than 120,000 people signing a White House petition calling on the President to release his tax returns.
The petition, which was posted on the White House official webpage, demands that the new President “immediately release [his] full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.”
“The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.”
The emoluments clause of the Constitution states that no person holding any office may receive any present from a foreign government, something Trump’s critics argue he might be in danger of doing as his multinational Trump organization continues to expand its enterprise in several countries around the world.
“No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
— Harvey Fierstein (@HarveyFierstein) January 15, 2017
Donald Trump’s tax returns had been a major bone of contention among his critics and supporters alike throughout the course of the presidential campaign, with his then-rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign constantly demanding that Trump release his tax returns. However, Trump maintained that he would release his tax returns once the federal audit that he was subject to concluded, even as the IRS stated that an audit does not prevent someone from releasing personal tax information. Trump has since been keen to sideline the issue with claims that it is only the media which is interested in his tax returns, but an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted as recent as this week showed that 74 percent of Americans wanted Trump to release his tax returns and bury the hatchet surrounding his conflicts of interests for good.
Trump says IRS audit prevents him from releasing his tax returns. His own Labor Secretary nominee disagrees. https://t.co/s89g5NX9D9
— CAP Action (@CAPAction) January 11, 2017
Other seemingly bipartisan businessmen and ethics lawyers have also called on the new President to release his tax returns, with billionaire investor Warren Buffett claiming that hiding the tax returns under the pretext of an audit was not a valid reason. The former chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, Richard Painter, has maintained that the Trump administration cannot afford to keep the American people dangerously ignorant about his conflicts of interests, especially as his foreign policy changes could be directed by the interests of the Trump organization in different regions around the world.
“The president needs to focus on protecting the United States and American interests in a very dangerous world. I really hope that President Trump takes the steps he needs to, to be free of conflict of interest in that endeavor.”
Now that the petition on the White House page has gained in excess of 100,000 signatures within a single day, rules dictate that the administration must respond to the petition within a period of 60 days. Considering that this petition will only grow in days to come, President Trump might soon be inundated with calls to finally release his tax returns for the American people to judge for themselves. Even if that does not happen, the Trump administration is now bound to respond to the petition within a period of two months.
Where do you stand on the whole matter: do you think it is time that Donald Trump released his tax returns?
[Featured Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]