By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Senior Correspondent
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) praised the recent Supreme Court ruling that provides Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance access to President Donald Trump’s tax and financial records.
In a live interview on Monday, July 13, with BlackPressUSA, Ocasio-Cortez called the decision “huge,” and said the release of the president’s records could reveal whether Trump has participated in financial crimes.
“I think opening the door and allowing the New York prosecutor’s office to access Trump’s taxes is a huge step. From day one of his campaign, Trump was the first to break from that tradition (of unveiling his financial records),” Ocasio-Cortez said during the interview, which included Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes.
“Even before he was president, people were raising alarm bells,” Ocasio-Cortez suggested. “The reason we ask for tax and financial records of presidential candidates to be made public is precisely for this reason. To see if there isn’t any indication that a candidate can be extorted or some conflict of interest,” she said.
“The fact that the president has hidden it from day one is an issue, and it turns out as time has gone on; he very well may be implicated in crimes. His taxes may further implicate him in the criminality of a financial nature, and that has huge consequences for our governance.”
This month’s ruling marked the first time that the nation’s highest court has directly ruled on a matter involving Trump’s financial dealings.
The president has steadfastly refused to release his tax records to the public, and with the election drawing close, Ocasio-Cortez noted concerns have only increased.
“We do have testimony that there is something there,” Ocasio-Cortez declared.
“While some people may speculate about foreign connections and Russia, ultimately the things he’s been directly implicated are financial fraud, tax fraud, and tax evasion. [Trump’s former attorney] Michael Cohen came before a congressional committee and testified that Donald Trump over-inflated his assets for insurance companies, and under-inflated them for taxes.
“Both are crimes, and Cohen indicated that this was done regularly. It could [Trump’s] financial crimes are on a scale of tens of millions of dollars. That’s enormous, and it could be used as a source to blackmail him. It’s a crime, and it’s likely one reason he’s tried to hide his taxes when he ran.”
In an attempt to prevent future candidates and those in office to hide their financial status from the public, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1 last year.
The bill, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has thus far refused to take up, would expand access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, and strengthen ethics rules for public servants.
“It’s a sweeping electoral reform bill that could start to chip away at the power of big money and dark money,” Ocasio-Cortez stated. “Throughout Trump’s tenure, he has shown that many of the customs that we took for granted were not law.”
The congresswoman added that Trump’s recent pardons and the commutation of the president’s friend Roger Stone raise significant concern.
“It’s extremely troubling because the message that Trump is sending to his accomplices is that if you commit a crime for me, then I will let you off the hook,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The congresswoman also made a plea for everyone to fill out the 2020 Census.
“This is so important for our communities, especially for communities of color because we have historically been undercounted,” Ocasio-Cortez noted.
“One message that I think is important to get across is that your Census information is completely confidential. It doesn’t matter [where you live], if you owe child support, are undocumented, or in debt. None of that information is shared with anybody. It’s not only illegal, but it’s an immense crime for anyone at the Census to leak personal information. Your information is completely safe and confidential.”