At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on 2/12/2020, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was grilled by Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) about the apparent double standard stemming from his department’s decision to deny a request for President Trump’s tax returns from House Democrats while at the same time gladly handing over financial records related to Hunter Biden to Senate Republicans.
Sec Mnuchin’s explanation, a plausible one, was that the request for Trump’s tax returns was governed by a different provision from the one governing records request related to Hunter Biden. According to Sec Mnuchin, the records request related to Hunter Biden was a SARS (Suspicious Activity Reports) request which he said Treasury has already released for over 1,000 individuals following requests by both Republican and Democratic committee chairs.
Specifically, Sec Mnuchin said, “The House disclosure of tax returns is subject to protections of 26 U.S.C. 6103 which on the advise of counsel as we documented, we had significant concerns. That’s very different than I believe what you[Sen Wyden] are referring to–SARS requests, which on a bipartisan basis we have responded to thousands ofSARS requests to the committees from both Republicans and Democrats on an equal basis.”
The question for House Democrats going forward is whether they can pin Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to this SARS rationale and get Treasury to release suspicious activity reports related to the Trump family from the myriad banking institutions they have been involved with, especially Deutsche Bank. This might prove particularly interesting given the fact that Attorney General William Barr’s daughter Mary Daly currently works at Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Unit (FINCEN), which presumably handles suspicious activity reports from the various banking institutions. Was Mary Daly installed at FINCEN for a reason? Hmm
Bottom line folks, getting Trump’s tax returns remains a very high priority for the majority of the American public. However, there are other financial records related to Trump and his family that House Democrats could pry loose using Sec Mnuchin’s SARS rationale, especially records related to Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank. Hopefully House Democrats will seize on this great opportunity Sec Mnuchin has unwittingly presented them with.
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In a troubling Bloomberg piece, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller says the same Russians who interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections are busy trying to interfere with the upcoming midterms 2018. TeamMueller reportedly made this argument in a court filing trying to get a protective order on certain evidence they’ve collected related to TrumpRussia investigation. The lawyers for one of the companies Mueller has indicted in the TrumpRussia investigation, Concord Management, has requested the judge to release the evidence Mueller has against their client–a standard/routine criminal defense procedure
Team Mueller is arguing that releasing such evidence while TrumpRussia investigation is still ongoing will not only weaken their investigation into other players, but could also give Russian intelligence agencies an advantage which they can use to attack midterms 2018 and beyond. Whether TeamMueller’s legal arguments will prevail in court remains to be seen but the important takeaway for Democrats/DNC is that Mueller’s worries are yet another reminder to Dems not to be complacent over election security issues. Grassroots Democrats, including Yours Truly have been screaming for stronger action by Dems on election security issues, especially as it relates to unverifiable voting machines
There are encouraging signs that Congressional Dems are beginning to listen to the election security cries of grassroots Dems as evidenced by the recent introduction of “PAVE”(Protecting American Votes & Elections) Act by Dem Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore, Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass
Finally! The just announced Protecting American Votes & Elections (“PAVE”) Act mandates that states give all voters a #handmarked#paperballot option & that they conduct manual risk limiting audits for all federal races! Sponsors include @RonWyden, … 1/ https://t.co/lfEr1FTSW7
While this is clearly very encouraging news, Dems must not stop there. Dems must not only scrutinize voting machines but also look deeper into this so-called “Trump phenomenon” where Trump supposedly favors an underdog candidate in a GOP Primary and all of a sudden they become the favorite, as was the case in South Carolina with Rep Mark Sanford’s loss. Think about that folks–if the fear is that Russians interfered in 2016 and they are still interfering today, why is it such a giant leap of faith to assume that the so-called “Trump Phenomenon” is not a phenomenon at all? Are these primary wins verifiable? If not, will the 2018 midterm results be verifiable–auditable paper trail? These are the type of questions Democrats/DNC need to start asking and asking forcefully as we approach midterms 2018 and beyond. It is not a crime to pester the GOP Secretaries of State with these kinds of questions
Grassroots Democrats are extremely excited about Dem chances in midterms 2018. It will be sad if after all that we end up with very questionable election results which nobody can verify all because the election security/voting machine questions that needed to be asked were never asked by the right people–Democratic Party establishment/DNC/Media–especially where, as here, grassroots Dems have been screaming about voting machine security all along.
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