While newly sworn-in president Donald J. Trump was delivering his inauguration address in Washington, D.C., yesterday, the president’s official website, WhiteHouse.gov, was being redesigned, pretty much from the ground up. We The People, the name of the initiative that facilitates online petitions, was launched under the presidency of Barack Obama, in September, 2011, and appears to be one of the few features that remain with the new site.
Almost immediately, a new petition, calling for the release of Trump’s taxes not made available to the public during his 2016 presidential campaign was started when the new WhiteHouse.gov site was up and running. The Trump petition gained more than the threshold of 100,000 signatures almost immediately, as reported by Yahoo!. It has been suggested that President Trump may not wish to have his tax returns made public because they may show financial conflicts of interest or reveal that his net worth is less than he claims.
In September, 2016, the Inquisitr reported on a petition that had been started with We The People protesting the Drug Enforcement Agency’s decision to ban kratom, which is held by some as an effective treatment against the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids and other diseases. The kratom petition went on to gather well over 100,000 signatures. As a result, the DEA withdrew its plans to ban kratom in October and invited further comment from the public on the matter.
The new Trump tax return petition has attracted 163,436 signatures in just its first two days. The threshold for a petition to invoke comment from the president or the White House administration is 100,000 signatures. In 2013, the Washington Post reported on instances where, even though a petition had reached the necessary number of signatures, comment from the White House was not forthcoming.
At the time, the Post noted that the terms of We The People reserved the right to not respond to petitions dealing with “certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government.”
Guidelines for creating petitions with We The People currently state that if a petition can attract 100,000 signatures in 30 days that it will be reviewed and presented to “appropriate policy experts.” After that, petitioners can expect an “official response” within 60 days. Some of the petitions featured by the Washington Post, such as “Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz” appeared to have had a lower threshold of 25,000 signatures.
The Obama administration responded, after two years, calling internet activist Aaron Swartz’s death a “tragic, unthinkable loss,” but insisted that, because of the limited scope of We The People, that their “response must be limited” and that the administration will not “address agency personnel matters in a petition response, because we do not believe this is the appropriate forum in which to do so.”
At a press conference earlier in January, when asked if he planned to release his tax returns now that he had been elected president, President Trump stated that the only people who are interested in his “tax returns are the reporters.” Whether the petition with WhiteHouse.gov will receive an official response will likely be closely watched, as well as a topic of debate. In contrast to the president’s stance, Good Morning America reported that three-quarters of U.S. citizens believe that Donald Trump should release his tax returns. Of those polled about the Trump taxes, four-in-10 were said to describe the subject as something they cared about “a lot.”
While President Trump himself has claimed a net worth of more than $10 billion, reports of a true Trump net worth as low as $200 million have been made. Forbes last pegged Trump’s net worth near $3.7 billion in September, 2016, as reported by the Inquisitr.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]