As the GOP Presumptive Nominee Donald Trump, and Republican leadership are meeting to work on uniting the party after a contentious primary season, Mitt Romney once again has decided to insert himself into the 2016 presidential election cycle to widen the divisions, with a Facebook statement regarding Trump's tax returns, claiming that "It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters....."
Romney's full statement below:
It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters, especially one who has not been subject to public scrutiny in either military or public service. Tax returns provide the public with its sole confirmation of the veracity of a candidate's representations regarding charities, priorities, wealth, tax conformance, and conflicts of interest. Further, while not a likely circumstance, the potential for hidden inappropriate associations with foreign entities, criminal organizations, or other unsavory groups is simply too great a risk to ignore for someone who is seeking to become commander-in-chief.
Mr. Trump says he is being audited. So? There is nothing that prevents releasing tax returns that are being audited. Further, he could release returns for the years immediately prior to the years under audit. There is only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump's refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them. Given Mr. Trump's equanimity with other flaws in his history, we can only assume it's a bombshell of unusual size.
(Anticipating inquiries regarding my own tax release history, I released my 2010 tax returns in January of 2012 and I released my 2011 tax returns as soon as they were completed, in September of 2012.)
CONSTITUTIONAL REQUIREMENTS TO HOLD OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Evidently Mittens isn't familiar with the Constitution, specifically Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5, which explains what would "disqualify" a presidential candidate.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
Interestingly enough, as a side note, Breitbart offers a flashback to when Romney was refusing to release his tax records, it was Donald Trump that came to his defense in August 2012 in an interview with Greta Van Susteren.
So while it has become a common practice for candidates to release their tax returns, it is not a legal nor a constitutional requirement to do so, hence not a legal disqualifier.
The backlash began almost immediately in the Facebook comment section, and was subsequently addressed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "Mitt right now needs to get over the fact that in fact somebody he didn’t get pick won. I was a Marco Rubio person. I was on the campaign trail for four months. You know, Donald Trump is a good man. He wasn’t my first choice. Mitt Romney is in the same boat. We need to unify and I think we’re coming together."
Screen shots of the comment section showing a small portion of the "top comments" out of the 31K comments his statement has garnered in just 20 hours, below:
As you can see from just this small sample from the top of the comment section, there are few supportive of Romney, but the ratio represented above is similar to what I saw in going through some of the comments lower down..... of course I didn't go through all 31K comments.
ROMNEY TEAMS UP WITH HILLARY CLINTON
I saved the strangest part of this whole episode for last because of the timing of Romney's Facebook post, just hours after Hillary Clinton took aim at Trump's taxes, which is either a heck of a coincidence or Mittens is actively working to help Clinton by teaming up with her against Trump.
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton took aim at Donald Trump on taxes Wednesday and quickly found an unlikely ally: 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Clinton noted at a New Jersey campaign rally that Trump had yet to release his tax returns and said he would slash taxes for the nation's wealthiest people if elected president. Hours later, Romney issued a withering post on Facebook, accusing Trump of hiding a damaging revelation in his tax returns.
There is a third possibility, which is that while the Republican leaders are making a show of trying to "unite" the party, they are using Romney in a plan to continue to try to stop Trump.
The tax issue is a side show, one used in elections regularly. With that said, it has been common practice for decades for presidential candidates to release their tax returns and while not legally required, it would put an end to the side show that Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton are playing at.
On the other hand, two points which were covered by Forbes and CNN previously, indicate that what is in those returns isn't criminal in nature as Mittens seems to be implying, and that Trump's tax lawyers are most likely adamantly against the release, moreso than Trump himself.
CNN pointed out in late March that in the release of a letter by Trump's tax attorney it was disclosed that Trump's tax filings from 2009 and onward are still being audited but the prior audits from 2002 to 2008 were "closed administratively by agreement with the IRS without assessment or payment, on a net basis, of any deficiency."
In other words, no legal action was taken against Trump by the IRS in previous audits, which indicates nothing criminal or illegal was in those returns because as we all know, the IRS would have hit him with everything they had if there was.
Forbes points out that it is the IRS "Wealth Squad," a specialized, experienced group of examiners solely focused on conducting audits of high-income/high-wealth taxpayers, that is conducting the audit, and then Forbes asks and answers two specific questions:
Is there any legal impediment to Trump publicly releasing his tax returns? Absolutely not.
Would any experienced tax lawyer representing Trump in an IRS audit advise him to publicly release his tax returns during the audit? Absolutely not.
If it is Trump himself that doesn't want to release his personal tax information than I would suggest he do so, but if he is being advised by tax lawyer to refrain from doing so, then it is completely understandable that he hasn't yet.
These issues are discussed in the clip below, where we see Actor Scott Baio join the discussion and explain that while he campaigned for Romney and Ryan, he thinks Romney is acting like "just a big damn baby!."