California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state’s legislature have thrown another political bomb at President Trump. On Tuesday the governor signed a law requiring any candidates in presidential primaries to release the last five years of their tax returns at least 98 days before the primary date.
In a statement, Newsom said:
“These are extraordinary times and states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence.”
It’s not clear what minimal standards the governor is referring to, since releasing tax returns isn’t one of the qualifications of running for the highest office, and wasn’t a common thing until Nixon did it in the early 1970s.
The move is aimed squarely at President Trump, who has refused to release his taxes. Recently the State of New York requested Trump’s taxes from the IRS. The president has sued to stop the IRS from complying.
A key point in the California kerfuffle is that the state isn’t requiring the release of tax information to be on the general election ballot in November, just on the primary ballot in March. If Trump isn’t on the primary ballot, but still wins the nomination, he’d still be on the ballot in November.
And of course, none of it matters, because all of this is happening in a state that the Republican nominee, whomever he or she happens to be, decidedly will not win in the 2020 presidential election.
It would be entertaining if President Trump simply ignored the entire thing, but that would set a terrible precedent.