Andy Puzder: Dems should fight Trump at ballot box, not battle over his tax returns

President Trump is entitled to serve out his first term and entitled to run for re-election, whether the Democrats like it or not. It’s time for the endless Democratic attempts to obstruct the will of American voters to stop.

Democrats have spent Trump’s entire presidency grasping at straws in a forlorn quest to overturn the result of the 2016 election. The current calls for impeachment and disclosure of the president’s tax returns are nothing more than a continuation of the Democrats’ failed attempts to derail his presidency.

With only 47 seats in the 100-member Senate, Democrats know they will never get the 67 Senate votes needed to convict Trump on impeachment charges and force him from office. But impeachment proponents see the effort as a way of weakening the president and making it more likely that they will defeat him for re-election in November 2020.

PELOSI: TRUMP ‘IS GOADING US TO IMPEACH HIM’

Calls for impeachment are merely a Democratic PR stunt designed to set up televised hearings that will fill the airwaves for weeks with unfounded accusations about the president.

This blatant political play is tremendously unfair to Trump. But, even more importantly, it is an insult to voters and an attack on the legitimacy of the constitutional system by which the American people chose Trump be our president.

From a political standpoint, I think such overreaching tactics by Democrats are more likely to boomerang than succeed. But more is at stake here than just the next election. The potential damage to our political system is real and would last far longer than the Trump presidency, whether he wins or loses his re-election bid.

The “smoking gun” Democrats had been waiting for turned out to be an empty water pistol. And Trump’s fingerprints weren’t even on it.

These calls for impeachment show just how desperate Democrats are to find something – anything – to pin on Trump to reduce his support among voters.

Democrats were counting on the report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be the “smoking gun” (to use a Watergate term) to show Trump colluded with Russia to get to the White House. But Mueller found no collusion and Attorney General William Barr found no obstruction of justice charges were warranted against the president.

The “smoking gun” Democrats had been waiting for turned out to be an empty water pistol. And Trump’s fingerprints weren’t even on it.

So the distraught Democrats have gone back to their original plan: demanding Trump’s tax returns, despite having no legitimate legislative purpose for their demand. Their purpose is clearly to fabricate yet another political scandal.

Enough is enough. We elect members of Congress to solve problems and improve our lives – not to create problems with endless politicking at taxpayer expense.

First, there is an important principle at stake here. The privacy of tax returns is a vital part of our entire revenue system. It prevents the tax collection process from being weaponized for political, personal, or other venal motives.

Second, Trump’s reluctance to make public his personal and proprietary financial information is completely reasonable, especially given how his political enemies – the very people making these demands – have time and again attempted to spin even the most innocent trivialities into election-season “scandals.”

If voters were concerned with Trump not producing his tax returns, President Hillary Clinton would be sitting in the Oval Office today.

Third, it’s perfectly obvious that there is no legislative or public policy motive behind the hunt for the Trump tax returns. This is all about politics.

The Democrats in Congress are not Internal Revenue Service tax auditors. They are politicians. As we saw with their obsession with non-existent Trump-Russia collusion, the Democrats are seeking neither justice nor accountability, but rather political dirt.

What about the notion that keeping the president’s tax returns private shields him from accountability or liability for any hypothetical wrongdoing?

Trump has already acknowledged that his tax returns are under IRS audit. In fact, like many very successful business people, he has been audited many times over the course of his career. If there is any evidence of irregularities in his tax returns, there are already professional, non-partisan, career investigators with full authority to find it.

Congressional Democrats – and specifically House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass. – are basing their demand for the Trump tax returns on a 1924 law that resulted from the Teapot Dome bribery scandal of that era.

But that law was enacted so Congress could investigate a scandal – not so one political party could create a scandal involving the other. It certainly wasn’t the intent of Congress to turn the IRS into the opposition research department of the Democratic National Committee.

And in the height of hypocrisy, while Chairman Neal leads the call for the release of the Trump tax returns, he refuses to release his own tax returns, despite saying earlier that he would. Following up on earlier news stories, the Washington Examiner reported Tuesday that Neal is still keeping his tax returns private.

The 1924 law has a requirement that any tax material that can be linked to any identifiable American be handled only in closed executive session. But there’s no question that if Democrats got their hands on Trump’s tax information they’d leak it to the media with the most negative spin possible. It’s the only way to garner the political benefits of their tax returns ploy.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to turn over the Trump tax returns, stating that the Democrats have failed to identify a “legitimate legislative purpose.” He’s right.

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Should this case reach the U.S. Supreme Court, the high court would surely hold unconstitutional a Democratic-run House committee’s attempt to compel the president to produce his tax returns absent a legitimate legislative purpose.

We are all well aware that Democrats want Trump out of the White House. Perhaps they should pursue this ambition the old-fashioned way – by campaigning to elect a Democrat as the next president of the United States. This is the way our democracy was designed to work. Stop the nonsense and let the voters decide.

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