New York State Is Looking to Help Congress Do Oversight on Trump

People keep tap-tap-tapping on President Trump’s eggshell, hoping to get at the yolky goodness inside. The latest efforts have come from the New York State Legislature. First, the Assembly completed work on an anti-pardon bill that will hopefully make it a little harder for the president to obstruct justice.

On Tuesday, the Assembly passed a bill that would allow state prosecutors to pursue state charges against any person granted a presidential pardon on similar federal charges, undoing a loophole in the face of concern about Mr. Trump abusing his pardon power to indemnify former associates. The Senate had previously passed the bill to close the so-called double jeopardy loophole, and it, too, has Mr. Cuomo’s support.

Then the lawmakers in Albany followed that up with a bill to help the Democrats in Washington, D.C. get their hands on Trump’s taxes:

On Wednesday, the Democratic-led Legislature passed a bill that would permit New York State tax officials to hand over Mr. Trump’s state returns to any one of three congressional committees. Such returns — filed in New York, the president’s home state and business headquarters — would likely contain much of the same information as the contested federal returns.

The bill is expected to be signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a third-term Democrat and regular critic of Mr. Trump’s policies and behavior.

Specifically, the latter bill will authorize “the commissioner of the New York Department of Taxation and Finance” to “release [Trump’s state tax] returns to the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation for any ‘specified and legitimate legislative purpose.'”

That’s probably game, set, and match as far Trump trying to keep his finances secret, but he’ll undoubtedly try to fight this in court. They’ll claim it’s a Bill of attainder—a law targeting a single or small group of individuals, which is prohibited by the Constitution. It’s doubtful that that argument will work, however, because the crafters of the bill were careful to ensure that it applies to “an array of public officials, federal executive branch employees and political party leaders.”

As mentioned above, if Trump’s New York state tax returns are revealed to congressional investigators, they’ll have pretty much the same information they’d get from the Internal Revenue Service. Therefore, it might not matter if Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin relents and releases the subpoenaed documents to Congress (as the IRS says he must) or if he wins in court and is empowered to keep them under lock and key. Thanks to Democrats in Albany, the information is going to get out.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com