Friday, December 16, 2022

Last Call For A Taxing Explanation, Con't

With the House Democrats about out of time for Trump investigations, the issue of Trump's tax returns may find the Dems releasing those returns to the public next week.
House Democrats will likely unmask new details about former President Donald Trump’s long-hidden taxes following a key meeting now set for next week.

That would be a highly unusual move sure to ignite another post-presidential controversy surrounding Trump, who is running again for the White House.

Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal won access to Trump’s filings in November, after a long court fight, but they remain closely held, with only a handful of lawmakers and aides allowed to examine them. They’re still protected by strict privacy laws that make it a felony for anyone to divulge even basic details about Trump’s taxes.

But there is a way around those rules: Neal’s committee could vote privately to make them public, and that’s what the Massachusetts Democrat wants his colleagues to consider in a closed-door meeting now set for Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Democrats intend to release specifics from the returns, though what exactly will be unveiled is unclear. They could release Trump’s entire returns or perhaps something more limited, such as a summary.

Most of Neal’s colleagues have yet to see the filings, though he has granted access to the panel’s ranking Republican, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

It would be extremely rare for lawmakers to forcibly release someone’s tax information, especially a former president’s, and Trump was not legally required to disclose any of his tax information while he was running for president or after he was elected.

But he defied a decades-old tradition of presidents voluntarily releasing their returns, incensing Democrats, who waged a three-and-a-half year court fight for the documents. A century-old law allows the heads of Congress’ tax committees to see anyone’s returns.

Many Democrats say the public has a right to know where the president’s earnings come from, and how much he pays in taxes. They also want to know how vigorously the IRS has been implementing a long-standing policy of automatically auditing every president.

“Nearly four years ago, the Ways and Means Committee set out to fulfill our legislative and oversight responsibilities, and evaluate the Internal Revenue Service’s mandatory audit program,” said Neal, in a statement.

“As affirmed by the Supreme Court, the law was on our side, and on Tuesday, I will update the members of the committee.”

Democrats believe the law granting Neal access to the filings only applies to the chairs of the tax panels, not their ranking members, so they’re racing to act before Republicans take over the House on Jan. 3.

Neal demanded Trump’s personal returns and filings for eight business entities from 2015 to 2020.

That overlaps with some of the records previously reported by the New York Times but also includes ones from additional years.

Trump’s real estate business was convicted earlier this month of tax fraud. He is promising an appeal.
So between Trump's tax returns and the January 6th Committee's final report, next week is going to be an absolute hurricane.

Stay tuned, dear readers. We're going to have a lot on our hands in a few days.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Trump didn't change the narrative from his legal troubles with his NFT trading card nonsense. so noe people are going to be talking next week about the charges the January 6th Committee will vote on recommending.

The Jan. 6 select committee is preparing to vote on urging the Justice Department to pursue at least three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump, including insurrection.

The report that the select panel is expected to consider on Monday afternoon, described to POLITICO by two people familiar with its contents, reflects some recommendations from a subcommittee that evaluated potential criminal referrals. Among the charges that subcommittee proposes for Trump: 18 U.S.C. 2383 Insurrection; 18 U.S.C. 1512(c) obstruction of an official proceeding; and 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to defraud the United States government.

It’s unclear whether the report will recommend additional charges for Trump beyond the three described to POLITICO. The document, according to the people familiar, includes an extensive justification for the recommended charges.
Indeed, House Democrats aren't waiting for those charges to be actually filed by the Justice Department and Special Counsel Jack Smith, and are looking to bar Trump from future office under the 14th Amendment.

House Democrats introduced legislation Thursday—sure to never make it out of a GOP-led House that takes over in January—that would bar former President Donald Trump from being president again under the 14th Amendment, part of a broader effort by Democrats and activists to keep Trump from holding future office through a little-used constitutional provision as he launches his 2024 campaign.

Section Three of the 14th Amendment states no one can serve in Congress or “hold any office, civil or military” who has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the [United States], or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”

More than 40 House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would disqualify Trump from office under that statute based on his trying to overturn the 2020 election and “mobilizing, inciting, and aiding” his supporters who attacked the Capitol building on January 6, 2021, which the bill argues constitutes engaging in an insurrection.

The bill points to Section Five of the 14th Amendment as giving Congress the power to enforce Trump’s disqualification under the amendment, but the Congressional Research Service notes that it’s possible Trump could also be barred from office without Congress and through lawsuits or criminal charges being brought against him instead.

The Justice Department could charge Trump with treason or engaging in an insurrection, which would likely result in him being prohibited from holding office if found guilty, the CRS notes, and charges against him could also give lawmakers more leverage to successfully use the 14th Amendment against him in Congress.

A rival candidate or voters could also try suing Trump and asking a court to bar him from taking office, the CRS notes, though it would be up to judges or the Supreme Court to determine if that strategy would succeed. 
Advocacy groups Free Speech for People and Mi Familia People have launched a campaign asking Secretaries of State and other elections officials to declare Trump is disqualified from being elected as president in their state’s election, which could keep Trump from being president if enough battleground states decided to keep him off the ballot to affect the election results.

51%. That’s the share of respondents in a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday who believe Trump should be disqualified from holding office under the 14th Amendment, after he called for “terminating” the Constitution in order to reverse his 2020 election loss.
And while that might even get a vote in the House, it'll never pass the Senate.
House Republicans will never allow Trump to be banished, even if convicted. their MAGA constituents will turn on them with breathtaking violence if they do.
Still, it'll be bad times ahead for Tang the Conqueror.


Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, Con't

"Free speech" supporter Elon Musk is permanently banning journalists critical of him on Twitter, saying that tweeting publicly available information and videos involving him violate Twitter's rules, which he made up last night.
Twitter suspended the accounts of roughly half a dozen prominent journalists on Thursday, the latest change by the social media service under its new owner, Elon Musk.

The accounts suspended included Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist; Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Matt Binder of Mashable; Tony Webster, an independent journalist; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and the political journalist Keith Olbermann. It was unclear what the suspensions had in common; each user’s Twitter page included a message that said it suspended accounts that “violate the Twitter rules.”

The moves came a day after Twitter suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires and high-profile individuals, including that of Mr. Musk. Many of the accounts were operated by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student and flight tracking enthusiast who had used Twitter to post updates about the location of Mr. Musk’s private plane using publicly available information.

Last month, Mr. Musk had said he would allow the account that tracked his private plane to remain on Twitter, though he said it amounted to a security threat. “My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk,” he said in a tweet at the time.

But he changed his mind this week, after he claimed a car in which one of his sons was traveling was accosted by a “crazy stalker.” On Wednesday, Mr. Musk tweeted that any account that posted “real-time location info of anyone will be suspended, as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info.”

Some of the journalists whose accounts were suspended had written about the accounts that tracked the private planes or had tweeted about those accounts. Some have also written articles that have been critical of Mr. Musk and his ownership of Twitter. Many of them had tens of thousands of followers on the platform.

Mr. Musk did not respond to a request for comment and Twitter did not respond to an email for comment. In a tweet, Mr. Musk said Twitter’s rules on “doxxing” — which refers to the sharing of someone’s personal documents, including information such as their address — “apply to ‘journalists’ as well as everyone else.” He did not elaborate.

“Tonight’s suspension of the Twitter accounts of a number of prominent journalists, including The New York Times’s Ryan Mac, is questionable and unfortunate,” said Charlie Stadtlander, a spokesman for The Times. “Neither The Times nor Ryan have received any explanation about why this occurred. We hope that all of the journalists’ accounts are reinstated and that Twitter provides a satisfying explanation for this action.”

A representative for The Post did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Kristine Coratti Kelly, a CNN spokeswoman, said the suspensions were “concerning but not surprising” and that “Twitter’s increasing instability and volatility should be of incredible concern for everyone who uses” it. In an appearance on CNN after his account was suspended, Mr. O’Sullivan said Twitter’s actions could intimidate journalists who cover companies owned by Mr. Musk.

“I was disappointed to see that I was suspended from Twitter without explanation,” Mr. Webster, whose account was suspended, said in an emailed comment. He added that he had tweeted about the Twitter account that tracked Mr. Musk’s private plane before his suspension.

Mr. Binder, the Mashable journalist, said that he had been critical of Mr. Musk but had not broken any of Twitter’s listed policies.

After his suspension from Twitter, Mr. Sweeney turned to Mastodon, an alternative social network. After Mastodon used Twitter to promote Mr. Sweeney’s new account on Thursday, Twitter suspended Mastodon’s account. As some journalists shared the news of Mastodon’s suspension, their own accounts were suspended.

Mr. Musk, who purchased Twitter in October for $44 billion, had said that his takeover would expand free speech on the platform and allow more people to participate in the public conversation. In recent weeks, he allowed some banned users to return to the platform, including former President Donald J. Trump, who was barred from his account after the Jan. 6, 2021, riots on Capitol Hill.
So, understand that if you've ever posted public information about someone else, or shared a video with people besides yourself in it, Twitter can now ban you at any time.
Who these policies will actually be enforced against will solely be the category of people who criticize Elon Musk and his friends, of course. But expect a lot more journalists and liberal activists to get permanent bans in the days and weeks ahead, and expect a lot more to move to competitors like Mastodon.

I'm at myself. Drop on by.
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