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Trump links travel programme ban with bid to unearth his tax returns

2020-02-13 15:53:48

AP
AP

Donald Trump appeared to offer New York Governor Andrew Cuomo a deal on a state immigration law if he agreed all investigations of his personal life and businesses are dropped.

In other words, the president floated a this-for-that deal focused on a personal political benefit.

If that sounds familiar, it should.

House Democrats, joined by a smattering of Republicans, admitted the US leader asked his Ukrainian counterpart for such a quid pro quo on a 25 July call that became the basis for House Democrats impeaching him late last year.

“I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House,” Trump tweeted before their mid-afternoon meeting. “He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harassment, start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes.”

State prosecutors in Manhattan are seeking eight years of Trump’s tax records, according to reports. All efforts to see his financial records have greatly irked Mr Trump since before he took office. He said as a candidate he would release some information, but he has yet to do so, angering Democrats.

There is nothing etched in US law requiring presidents or candidates for the job to release tax returns, but it is a decades-old custom. So far, the court system has not forced Mr Trump to do so, further angering Democrats as he repeatedly defies him amid all-time high approval ratings after they impeached him without the votes in the Senate to convict and end his presidency.

White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham was asked to explain how the president was not floating a this-for-that deal that would mostly benefit him personally. She had not responded.

While Trump and his West Wing aides often bring in the day’s press pool to capture the president meeting with a foreign leader or other top official, that did not happen on Thursday.

At issue is a dispute over New York’s so-called “Green Light Law,” which allows undocumented migrants to get state driver’s licenses and bans federal agents from looking at state motor vehicle records. The Trump administration responded by denying New York access to the “Global Entry” and other programs that allow individuals entering the country through the Empire State to pass through security more easily.

Mr Cuomo earlier this week floated a possible middle ground, saying he would allow agents access to driving records if Mr Trump dropped the “Global Entry” prohibition.

The White House has given no indication the president is inclined to take that deal.

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