With the Republicans in Congress, spearheaded by House Speaker Paul Ryan, arguing the release of the controversial "Nune's memo" on Friday was all about the "sunshine" and the public's right to know, critics are taking the opportunity to point out the obvious hypocrisy of a party that champions "transparency" when it suits their political ends while continuing to block the release of other information in the clear public interest like, say, President Donald Trump's still-hidden tax returns or the people who visit Mar-A-Lago that the American people are not allowed to know about.
"Sunshine is the best disinfectant. And so what we want is all this information to come out, so that transparency can reign supreme and accountability can occur," Ryan said earlier this week as the White House prepared its approval of a highly partisan and misleading memo that relates to FISA court surveillance of Trump campaign advisors and the ongoing probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections, possible collusion with the Trump campaign, and concerns about obstruction of justice by the president.
Amazing how the GOP can claim they are seeking transparency when they continue to ignore the fact that Trump won’t release his taxes. Can you really have it both ways? https://t.co/UcXyhQJNLq
— Lisa Mandelblatt (@LisaMandelblatt) February 3, 2018
Your daily reminder that Trump is the first president elected since Nixon to refuse to release his tax returns, and any payments from Russia remain secret.
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) February 3, 2018
In a Saturday editorial, the New York Times asked: "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?"
The Times continued:
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?
And, of course, Americans should have complete confidence now that congressional Republicans will demand complete transparency from all members of the president’s campaign, transition team and administration in describing their dealings with representatives of a foreign power that tried to swing our election — as well as from the special counsel who is investigating those efforts.
The party that demanded the release of Hillary Clinton’s emails as a central plank of the 2016 presidential campaign must support all of this and more, right?
Of course, as writes John Nichols at The Nation, people should not be fooled into thinking that Ryan, or his fellow GOP allies in Congress, are operating with transparency as an inspiration or a goal:
Make no mistake: Paul Ryan has zero interest in accountability, transparency, or cleaning up problems with law-enforcement agencies and the investigative process. He has shown no interest in legitimate and necessary oversight of intelligence agencies. He has never been identified with the cause of civil liberties or with the defense of privacy rights.
What Paul Ryan has been identified with is extreme partisanship and with the determination of congressional Republicans to defend Donald Trump—even if that defense comes at the cost of a system of checks and balances that was established 231 years ago to guard against precisely the abuses that are now occurring.
On Saturday morning, Trump erroneosly claimed in a tweet that the #NunesMemo was vindication for him. But while critics were quick to say that simply wasn't true, organizers behind the Tax March campaign—which have doggedly sought to have the president's returns exposed to sunlight and public scrutiny—simply responded:
We really wish Trump wasn’t so busy tweeting, so he could release his tax returns.
— Tax March (@taxmarch) February 3, 2018