Surviving in Trumpland … Congressman Jim McGovern: Trump Financial Transparency Vital to National Security

From the LATE SHOW w/ Stephen Colbert:

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McGovern Backs Bill Requiring Presidential Candidates to Release Tax Returns

Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA), the second-highest ranking Democrat on the House Rules Committee, joined today House Democrats in calling for passage of legislation to require presidential candidates to disclose three years of their tax returns.

This year, President-elect Donald Trump became the first presidential nominee in more than 30 years to not release his tax returns.

Speaking on S. 2943, the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report, Congressman McGovern emphasized the need for the American people to know where a presidential candidate has financial dealings because of the direct impact that could have on national security.

McGovern pointed to the example of President-elect Donald Trump and his glowing praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, raising questions about Trump’s potential financial dealings in Russia and whether he would stand up to Putin to protect U.S. interests and defend human rights.

“Tax returns provide the public with vital information about our presidential candidates. Have they paid taxes at all? Do they keep money offshore? Or have they taken advantage of tax loopholes? This is important information that voters have a right to know.

“The American people should expect candidates running for president to be open and transparent about their tax returns. And this legislation would ensure that transparency. It is hard for me to believe that giving people the right to know about presidential candidates’ financial dealings is controversial. I hope that this isn’t.

“I think where a presidential candidate and soon-to-be-President has financial dealings is directly related to our national defense. Does he have investments in Russia? Does he have investments in countries that have been hostile to human rights or to U.S. interests in various parts of the world? That is very relevant.”

McGovern also highlighted the Global Magnitsky Act which aims to builds on the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, legislation that McGovern authored. That legislation focused on Russia and was approved by Congress and signed into law in 2012. The law targets individual Russian officials accountable for the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, as well as other Russian officials engaged in corruption, human rights abuses or who seek to undermine the rule of law. It denies them visas to the United States, and freezes their assets in the United States. The Global Magnitsky Act would extend the use of those same targeted sanctions to all countries, not just Russia, and ensure that visiting the United States and having access to our financial system, including U.S. dollars, are privileges not granted to those who violate human rights and the rule of law.

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Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s Speech:

“Tax returns provide the public with vital information about our presidential candidates. Have they paid taxes at all? Do they keep money offshore? Or have they taken advantage of tax loopholes? This is important information that voters have a right to know.

“The American people should expect candidates running for president to be open and transparent about their tax returns. And this legislation would ensure that transparency. It is hard for me to believe that giving people the right to know about presidential candidates’ financial dealings is controversial. I hope that this isn’t.

“I think where a presidential candidate and soon-to-be-President has financial dealings is directly related to our national defense. Does he have investments in Russia? Does he have investments in countries that have been hostile to human rights or to U.S. interests in various parts of the world? That is very relevant.

“I don’t know where the head of our next president is going to be when it comes to standing up to abuses by people like Vladimir Putin against opposition leaders and journalists and anybody he disagrees with.

“This bill is named after a guy named Sergei Magnitsky, who, by the way, was an accountant in Russia who uncovered the largest corruption scandal in Russia’s history. And what was his reward for doing that? Putin had him put in jail. He was tortured. And he was beaten to death. That’s what happens in places that are run by strong men like Vladimir Putin.

“So yes, I’d like to know whether or not our next president has investments in Russia. I think that would be very relevant to know. And quite frankly, the reason this Magnitsky legislation is so important is it gives us a tool to pressure the next administration on the issue of human rights. And it is a signal to Putin and other dictators and strong men around the world that Congress is not going to be silent in the face of human rights abuses.

“Let the American people know what the financial dealings of their presidential candidates and soon-to-be-presidents are.”