History mandates presidential candidates release tax returns, but not how many

Team Trump files yet another lawsuit on president’s tax returns

Updated

Policymakers in California recently approved a new requirement for presidential candidates: those hoping to appear on the state’s presidential primary ballot will have to publicly disclose their tax returns from the five most recent years. The law takes effect immediately and will apply to the 2020 election cycle.

For Donald Trump, that obviously creates a bit of a problem: the president, for reasons he’s been reluctant to explain, has kept his tax returns hidden. The Republican is the only presidential candidate of the post-Watergate era – from either major party – to insist on total secrecy for his financial materials.

So, will Trump release his tax returns in order to compete in California? Will he skip competing in the nation’s largest state? The answer to both questions is no. Instead, the president and his lawyers yesterday filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the new law.

President Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee have filed suit against California over a law that requires presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the state’s primary ballot, one of Trump’s personal lawyers said Tuesday,

“Today we have taken decisive action in federal court challenging California’s attempt to circumvent the U.S. Constitution,” Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s personal legal team, said in a statement.

I’ll gladly leave it to legal experts to speak to the likely outcome of the case, though whatever the outcome, the practical effects will probably be limited. If Trump’s lawyers prevail, the president will continue to keep his tax returns secret. If California wins, Trump will likely just skip competing in the state’s presidential primary, win the Republican Party’s nomination anyway, and continue to keep his tax returns secret.

What strikes me as even more interesting, however, is the larger context: have you noticed how many lawsuits Team Trump filed in recent months over this issue?

Team Trump has sued state officials in New York in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

Team Trump has sued the House Ways & Means Committee in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

Team Trump has sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

Team Trump has even sued the president’s accounting firm in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

And now Team Trump has sued California as part of an effort to keep Trump’s tax returns secret.

It’s almost as if there’s something in the materials Trump doesn’t want people to see.