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MSNBC contributor says ‘bipartsian commission’ needed to vet presidential candidates, stop another Trump from winning

An MSNBC contributor on Thursday called for a “bipartisan commission” to vet presidential candidates and prevent someone like President Donald Trump from winning the White House ever again.

NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director of the FBI, said Trump’s tax returns as reported by the New York Times show he is “the most vulnerable president in our history” to compromise by foreign governments and is a national security threat. He believes the media and the 60 million people who voted for Trump in 2016 failed to properly vet him before he became president and the remedy is to have a bipartisan committee vet presidential candidates instead of the American people.

“He is the most vulnerable president in our history in terms of compromise and potential exposure to those who want to help him dig out of his financial pit in return for a price,” Figliuzzi said of Trump in a segment discussing the president’s tax returns.

Figliuzzi claimed the tax returns show how foreign governments could pressure Trump into making policy decisions that benefit their interests instead of the interests of the United States. He did not provide an example of a policy the president implemented that’s benefitted foreign governments and harmed the United States.
“There’s also another layer to this which is that when you’re this entangled with Russia and the former Soviet bloc you’re going to run smack into organized crime figures,” Figliuzzi added.

“So there’s too many gaps in the tax returns. There’s too many questions. Why is this president paying more to foreign nations in taxes than he is to the United States? How does he cover his debt? Who’s doing that for him? What’s the Deutsche Bank connection? Why are there so many golf courses losing so much money and why the continued purchase of those properties?”

But President Trump is not “paying more to foreign nations in taxes than he is to the United States.”

Berkeley professor Robert Reich recently made a similar claim, suggesting that the New York Times report on Trump’s taxes shows he only paid $750 in federal taxes in 2017 but nearly $300,000 in taxes to foreign governments that same year.

The New York Times report does not show that. The Times, in fact, reported that Trump paid the U.S. Treasury $1 million in 2016 and $4.2 million for income taxes that he might owe in 2017. This does not account for property taxes, payroll taxes, real estate taxes, or any other non-income taxes that Trump and his businesses paid to the United States in the years the New York Times reported.

On the basis of the unproven claim that Trump’s finances have made him vulnerable to foreign governments and a national security threat, Figluzzi suggested radical electoral reform is needed to make sure a candidate like Trump is never elected again.

“We’ve got to have a national discussion about how we vet a presidential candidate,” Figliuzzi said. “We screwed this up. Whether it’s the media not digging deeply enough, whether it’s a time to have a discussion about a bipartisan committee that demands tax returns, make that a requirement, or exposes financial pictures for candidates.”

“We got this wrong and this can’t happen again,” he concluded.


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SCOTUS says New York prosecutors can seek Trump’s tax documents,​ blocks Congress from getting them — at least for now

In a pair of rulings Thursday, the Supreme Court decided that President Trump’s tax documents can be sought as a part of a criminal investigation, but that, at least for now, Congress is not able to get his financial records.

In a 7-2 decision in Trump v. Vance, the court rejected arguments by Trump’s lawyers and the Department of Justice that the president is immune to a state criminal investigation while in office or that a higher standard is needed to subpoena a sitting president.

The tax documents are being sought as a part of a grand jury investigation into alleged hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. The ruling allows prosecutors to seek the president’s tax documents.

The court’s decision in Trump v. Mazars, also 7-2, was released only minutes later. The ruling dealt with Congress’ subpoena of Trump’s financial records.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion in both cases, wrote that “congressional subpoenas for information from the President, however, implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns.”

The court’s ruling in Trump v. Mazars sends the case back down to the lower courts with no clear prospect for when it might be fully resolved, the Associated Press reported.

The AP also noted that “the outcome in the two cases is at least a short-term victory for Trump, who has strenuously sought to keep his financial records private.” Since grand jury proceedings are confidential, it is unlikely that Trump’s financial records will become public any time soon.

This is a developing story and may be updated.