Questions of Transparency

The long-awaited memo written by Republican staff members about potential impropriety from the Justice Department and F.B.I in the Russia investigation has been revealed. Now, The New York Times editorial board is calling, once again, for President Trump to reveal his tax returns:

Since the Republicans are now on board with greater transparency, they will no doubt push President Trump to release his tax returns, as every other major-party presidential nominee has done for the past four decades, won’t they?

How about the White House visitor logs, which the Trump administration started hiding from the public last year? Or, say, the names of all foreign governments and officials who have stayed — at their own or at American taxpayers’ expense — at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida or at his golf courses and his other businesses since he became president? Or the names of every foreign business with which the Trump Organization has a financial relationship, especially in countries where America has sensitive foreign policy interests, like China, India, Russia, Turkey or Saudi Arabia?

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The reasoning sounds like reciprocity, but the argument may not get no more traction now than it did during the presidential campaign. A Pew research study in January 2017 showed that 60% of those surveyed believed Trump "has responsibility" to release his returns. Although some were adamant about the release at the time, the Wall Street Journal, for example, reported that the returns wouldn't tell us much anyway.


  • What are the advantages and downsides of President Trump revealing his tax returns?
  • Read the entire opinion piece. What other arguments do the authors make?
  • Do you agree with their reasoning? Why or why not?
  • How would you describe the tone? Does the approach help or hurt the argument?