Morality in America
When studying the founding of the United States, you can’t help but encounter the faith of the nation’s forefathers. Time and again they recognized God’s hand in the shaping of America. You will find Him repeatedly mentioned in their words and documents. And you will find Him having an active, vibrant role in the country’s early history.
Today, God continues His work in America – but it’s in a nation that has clearly lost its moral compass. Every week, “Morality in America” will address the myriad of moral concerns facing the United States and undermining its Godly heritage. After you read, remember to intercede in prayer for America – that this nation will return to the Christian standards that once defined it.
IRS Leak Frustrates President Trump
Will the source be found?
By Peggy Gustave
We urge you, brothers,…to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders…" 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Frustration coursed its way across the Internet as—once again—President Donald J. Trump tweeted his vexation with journalists. This time it was after an MSNBC anchor flashed two pages of the president’s 2005 tax return. As is often his response, President Trump called the story "fake news," and questioned whether the truth was told about the network’s source of information.
David Cay Johnston, who furnished the document to MSNBC, said he obtained it from an anonymous source who placed it in his mailbox. Johnston also published both pages on his own site.
The White House preemptively released a statement verifying the tax return was real and criticizing MSNBC for exploiting the situation. "You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago," the White House statement read.
President Trump said he does not know who released the pages of his 2005 tax return. "I have no idea where they got it, but it’s illegal, and they’re not supposed to have it, and it’s not supposed to be leaked, and it’s certainly not an embarrassing tax return at all, but it’s an illegal thing they’ve been doing. They’ve done it before, and I think it’s a disgrace," he told Fox News in an interview.
From the earliest hours of the 2016 presidential campaign, calls have been made for the release of the Trump tax returns. Apparently convinced that some nefarious activity lies beneath the still-undisclosed returns, some in the media have even called for congressional hearings, pushing the Ways and Means Committee to request them, and have even gone so far as to invite IRS agents to "leak" them.
While the 2005 return reveals nothing untoward, there are still serious concerns about how the network received it. There should be a limited number of people with access to those records. So who’s the leaker?
The Internal Revenue Service?
A copy of federal returns is retained by the IRS. But if an IRS employee leaked confidential tax information, that person may be guilty of a felony. Federal law makes it a crime for any federal employee to disclose unauthorized tax returns, and if one did, he or she could be subject to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000…and he or she would suffer the loss of a job.
A Trump tax preparer or attorney?
Accountants are under an ethical obligation not to disclose confidential tax information of a client without consent, and doing so would put them in a breach of duty.
Attorneys, likewise, owe an ethical obligation to their clients to preserve confidential information. A break from the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in this basic lawyer-client relationship could pave the way for a lawsuit and disciplinary action by the state bar.
The Trump Administration?
According to a blog in The Hill, since the 2005 return "reveals nothing sinister," they may have been leaked by President Trump himself or someone close to him. After all, the documents were stamped "Client Copy." There is nothing unlawful about releasing one’s own tax returns, if that is what happened.
Sources at MSNBC maintain that the document was given to them, and that they are under the protection of the First Amendment. "There is no legal prohibition against journalists publishing these tax returns," a spokesperson said. "It is protected by the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent."
The matter of the 2005 tax return will most likely pass from public attention quickly, especially since nothing adverse was revealed. But the American public should be interested in how such personal documents were exposed. Everyone, including President Trump, should have the expectation of tax returns remaining private.
This week pray:
- For investigators seeking to discover the source of this and other leaks.
- For integrity within the media, and a preference of personal privacy over a "public right to know."
- For President Trump to lower his frustrations and keep attending to the agenda at hand.
Peggy Gustave is a writer and editor for The Presidential Prayer Team. A published novelist, she lives in Phoenix, AZ.
The following expressions and comments are from our members and do not necessarily represent or reflect the biblical, world views or opinions of the Presidential Prayer Team
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