Late Friday, when they apparently thought few would notice, the Trump administration announced it is ending Barack Obama’s practice of making White House visitor logs and staff financial disclosure statements public.
The rationale — “grave national security risks and privacy concerns” — lacks credibility coming on the heels of Trump’s decision to remove privacy rights for Internet users and allow providers to sell their private information without permission.
It was explained as a budget cutting measure, saving $17,500 a year. That’s a cruel joke. It is just a fraction of the cost of just one of the president’s weekly Air Force One golf excursions to his Florida retreat, which costs taxpayers $3 million each, according to CNBC.
This is one more instance of Trump’s broken campaign promise of transparent and open government.
This week, we were again reminded that there is no better example of Trump’s penchant for secrecy, duplicity and falsehoods than his refusal to release his tax returns. Despite repeated campaign promises to follow the example of every president since Richard Nixon to make his returns public (presumably, like the rest of us, he did file his 2016 return by Tuesday, but we may never know that either) he now steadfastly refuses.
At first, he said he couldn’t because he was being audited, but that’s a lie. The IRS already had his return and doesn’t care if he makes it public. Then, after the election, he dropped all pretenses and refused flat out. Tens of thousands of taxpayers held demonstrations in some 200 cities around the country on April 15 demanding he keep his promise, but he responded in a tweet suggesting they were just a small band of paid agitators, and then declared: “The election is over.” Translation: No way.
American democracy won’t live or die on Donald Trump’s tax returns, but they have great symbolic value, and his refusal undercuts his promise to “drain the swamp” of special interest lobbying, cronyism and self-dealing in Washington.
There is only one reason Trump is stonewalling taxpayers who pay for his $3 million weekend AF1 golf outings: he has a lot to hide. [Even the fact that he plays golf and with whom are top secret.]
Is he as rich as he says? Does he give to charity as much as he boasts? Where does his money come from? Where does it go? Who is he beholden to? What about his connections to Russian and other foreign interests? Does he even pay taxes at all, and, if so, how does that compare to what the rest of us pay? He has grandiose spending plans for our tax dollars — billions just for his Mexican border fence — but does he pay his fair share?
On this tax day, his refusal has contributed to his historically low public approval ratings, including among Republicans and conservatives. As Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) pointed out, “We can’t blame this on Barack Obama. We have to look in the mirror.”
And that mirror hangs in the Oval Office, Ground Zero for a chaotic, dysfunctional administration.
If Donald Trump is looking for his worst enemy, he need look no further than his own mirror.