President Trump’s tax returns spurred Rachel Maddow to a countdown to nothing. They’ve spurred memes online and angry retorts from the president, and despite many promises from Trump to release them after an audit was complete, the public, so far, still doesn’t really know what’s in them.
All that may be about to change, as FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly about to include them in his ever-expanding investigation, which has now grown beyond looking into Trump’s presidential campaign and into his business empire.
Trump has reacted with perturbation at the idea that Mueller might be rifling through his tax returns, according to the Washington Post. His lawyers have said they think these business dealings are well beyond the scope of the original Russia investigation. But this is no ordinary investigation. According to the Post, a lawyer close to the case called it “Ken Starr times 1,000,” referring to the special counsel in the 1990s who led the investigation that eventually culminated in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. While that investigation focused largely on presidential perjury, Mueller is trying to discover if the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government in the 2016 election, a considerably more serious offense.
Moreover, Mueller’s writ has also expanded to if Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey in May.
Trump’s concern over his tax returns has sparked rampant speculation as to what’s in them. They might be hiding conflicts of interest or prove he’s not as rich as he says. Or Trump might just be so addicted to controversy that withholding them is just another way to generate media attention.
Trump is anxious about any of his business empire undergoing too much scrutiny. When asked by the New York Times about the investigation, Trump made it clear he considered poking around his family’s business dealings to be a “red line,” though he stopped short of saying he’d fire Mueller for it.
That didn’t convince conservative National Review writer Rich Lowry, who wrote an article titled “Yeah, Trump Is Probably Going to Fire Mueller.” Lowry is sure that Trump doesn’t care about political optics, and there’s little in his record to indicate he understands just how serious firing Mueller would be.
Turns out tax returns are an issue. pic.twitter.com/dZlrsg34hQ— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) July 21, 2017
To top that all off, reports are emerging that Trump is exploring if he can pardon himself and his family members if he should face trial, potentially sparking a constitutional crisis. The fallout from last year’s election, in other words, is far from over.
[Featured Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]