Things That Matter

President Trump Would Rather Sue California Than Release His Tax Returns

With just months to spare before the 2020 election, California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that would require presidential candidates to publicly release the last five years of their taxes in order to be eligible to take up space on the state primary ballot. The move turns what had been largely accepted tradition into law. In 2016, Trump was the first to refuse to release his tax returns in nearly half a century. The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act is the latest move by the Democratic party to force Trump’s hand in revealing his tax returns.

One week later, Trump filed a lawsuit against the state of California to challenge the law as adding an “unconstitutional qualification” to the pre-determined qualifications for the presidency.

Newsom tweeted directly at Trump saying, “There’s an easy fix Mr. President – release your tax returns as you promised.”

Credit: @GavinNewsom / Twitter

“Follow the precedent of every president since 1973,” he concluded. 

“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards and to restore public confidence,” Newsom said in a statement after signing the bill.

The measure is meant to create transparency around a candidate’s “influence from domestic and foreign business interest.”

Credit: @mindyanns / Twitter

During Trump’s campaign, he had cited an IRS audit as the reason he couldn’t release his taxes. Law experts have called the excuse “hogwash” and just a pitiful attempt to dodge accountability. Trump sold himself to Americans as a self-made billionaire. He should want to back up that claim. In the years since investigative journalists at The New York Times have tried to drudge up some semblance of the truth. It’s appeared that Trump has filed for bankruptcy numerous times, raising suspicions of either tax evasion or a highly aggrandized account of his own wealth.

Former Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill in 2017, as a “slippery slope” toward unprecedented asks of candidates.

Credit: @MyDesert / Twitter

“Today we require tax returns, but what would be next?” Brown had asked. “Five years of health records? A certified birth certificate? High school report cards? And will these requirements vary depending on which political party is in power?”

The constitutionality of Newsom’s bill will likely be decided in the Supreme Court.

Credit: @CarmenChambers / Twitter

Legal expert Rick Hasen of UC Irvine has similar concerns to Gov. Brown. If the state law is constitutional, “we might see a race to the bottom whereby other states enact ballot access requirements, such as a requirement for candidates to produce a birth certificate, which could affect which candidates can run in which states,” he told CNN.

Trump’s attorneys have been blocking access to his tax returns at all access points in recent weeks.

Credit: @ShellE719 / Twitter

House Democrats have filed for a release of his tax returns from Trump’s companies’ banks, his accounting firm and from members of his family. His legal team is hard at work to make sure Trump’s tax returns never see the light of day. 

Of course, Trump has tweeted his opposition to California’s new law, making Twitter the vehicle for civil discourse.

Credit: @realDonaldTrump / Twitter

He followed up the above tweet with a claim of “Just more of the record setting Presidential Harassment. Don’t feel badly, New York State is far worse!” Guess Trump never learned that #PresidentialHarassment for many sounds more like “grab ’em by the pussy.”

Californians are taking to Twitter to remind Trump that he didn’t care about Californian Republicans when the state was on fire.

Credit: @mmpadellan / Twitter

“Since when did YOU give a d*** about California? You told them to go rake,” comments one Twitter user. Many voters have a deep-seated mistrust of Trump after Russia interfered in the 2016 election that granted Trump the presidency. Under most other employment laws, Trump likely would have been fired for sexual harassment, ethnic discrimination and more. This user simply wants to see Trump held accountable to the same standards as previous presidents.

Others are taking the opportunity to call Congress to #ImpeachDonaldTrumpNOW.

Credit: @Terileeh2 / Twitter

If you pay your taxes, there’s really nothing to hide. America wants to know what Trump is trying to hide from the American people. If we’re all paying taxes that he’s circumvented, it makes it difficult to trust that he will understand the value and worth of our dollars. You can’t cheat the system and then be trusted to run it.

The Republican National Committee and Republican Party of California have filed a similar lawsuit against California.

Credit: @Trump_2020KAG / Twitter

They say the bill takes away voting rights from Trump’s supporters. We’ll see whether the judge believes that it’s actually Trump who is taking away voting rights from Trump supporters by withholding his tax returns or not. 

In the meantime, Trump supporters will have to plan on writing his name in the box.

READ: President Trump Is Fighting With Governor Gavin Newsom Over Undocumented Immigrants Getting Healthcare

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Mexico’s AMLO Wants To Launch New Social Media Network For Mexicans After Twitter Banned Trump

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Mexico’s AMLO Wants To Launch New Social Media Network For Mexicans After Twitter Banned Trump

Hector Vivas / Getty Images

Love him or hate him, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has long called himself the voice of the people – and many Mexicans agree with him. That’s why his latest announcement against social media companies has many so worried.

In the wake of Twitter and Facebook’s (along with many other social media platforms) announcement that they would be restricting or banning Donald Trump from their platforms, the Mexican president expressed his contempt for the decisions. And his intention to create a Mexican social network that won’t be held to the standards from Silicon Valley.

Mexico’s AMLO moves to create a social media network for Mexicans outside of Silicon Valley’s control.

A week after his United States counterpart was kicked off Facebook and Twitter, President López Obrador floated the idea of creating a national social media network to avoid the possibility of Mexicans being censored.

Speaking at his daily news conference, AMLO instructed the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) and other government departments to look at the possibility of creating a state-owned social media site that would guarantee freedom of speech in Mexico.

“We care about freedom a lot, it’s an issue that’s going to be addressed by us,” he told reporters. He also added that Facebook and Twitter have become “global institutions of censorship,” sounding a lot like the alt-right terrorists that stormed the U.S. Capitol.

“To guarantee freedom, for freedom, so there’s no censorship in Mexico. We want a country without censorship. Mexico must be a country of freedom. This is a commitment we have,” he told reporters.

AMLO deeply criticized the moves by Twitter and Facebook to ban Trump from their platforms.

Credit: Hector Vivas / Getty Images

AMLO – like Trump – is an avid user of social media to connect with his constituents. He’s also been known to spread falsehoods and boast about his achievements on the platforms – sound familiar?

So, it came as little surprise when he tore into social media companies for ‘censoring’ Donald Trump, saying that they have turned into “global institutions of censorship” and are carrying out a “holy inquisition.”

Nobody has the right to silence citizens even if their views are unpopular, López Obrador said. Even if the words used by Trump provoked a violent attack against his own government.

“Since they took these decisions [to suspend Trump], the Statue of Liberty has been turning green with anger because it doesn’t want to become an empty symbol,” he quipped.

So what could a Mexican social media network be called?

The president’s proposal to create a national social media network triggered chatter about what such a site would or should be called. One Twitter user suggested Facemex or Twitmex, apparently taking his inspiration from the state oil company Pemex.

The newspaper Milenio came up with three alternative names and logos for uniquely Mexican sites, suggesting that a Mexican version of Facebook could be called Facebookóatl (inspired by the Aztec feathered-serpent god Quetzalcóatl), Twitter could become Twitterlopochtli (a riff on the name of Aztec war, sun and human deity Huitzilopochtli) and Instagram could become Instagratlán (tlán, which in the Náhuatl language means place near an abundance of something – deer, for example, in the case of Mazatlán – is a common suffix in Mexican place names.)

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What Is the 25th Amendment and What Does it Do?: A Primer

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What Is the 25th Amendment and What Does it Do?: A Primer

via Getty Images

So in case you missed it, some crazy stuff went down at the Capitol yesterday. A mob of far-right Trump supporters broke into the Capitol building in “protest” of Congress ratifying President Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes.

The heinous episode shocked and rattled many Americans. After months of inflammatory rhetoric, President Trump effectively activated his base into violent and treasonous actions. And people are upset. 

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have since called for Trump’s resignation. But knowing President Trump, it isn’t likely that he’s going to do that.

Because of that, lawmakers have reportedly been having talks to discuss invoking the 25th Amendment.

The 25th Amendment has four sections that dictate what will happen in the event of an acting president being unable to carry out the duties of office. These events have usually amounted to…colonoscopies (no, really). But this time around, lawmakers are looking to the fourth section of the amendment to remove Trump from office. And this is where the wording gets super lawyer-y.

Section Four the 25th Amendment states:

“Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.”

Translation: The Vice President, Trump’s cabinet, the Senate leader, and the Speaker of the House would all have to agree to ousting Trump.

It’s a little complicated, so let’s break it down. Vice President Pence and the majority (11 out of 23) of Trump’s cabinet would have to agree that he is unfit for office. Then, they must submit a written request to the “President pro Tempore” of the Senate (who is Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley) as well as the Speaker of the House (California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi).

But wait, that’s not all. As soon as this motion is enacted, President Trump would be able to contest that decision (which he most definitely would). In that case, VP Mike Pence, Senator Grassley, and Congresswoman Pelosi would have to re-draft another statement insisting that he is, indeed, unfit for office.

Then, two-thirds of both the Senate and the House of Representatives would have to agree with their decision.

Only then would Trump be permanently removed from the presidency.

So, yeah…a lot of steps. But there’s a good reason for that. If removing a president from office were easy, it would be done a lot more often and our democracy would be a lot shakier.

Remember relentlessly hearing about the “checks and balances” of our government in elementary school? This is what our teachers were talking about. A lot of different people in different parts of the government have to sign-off on hard decisions so we can all make sure every action is justified and reasonable.

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