Strangely, simple contracts known as non-disclosure agreements could explain the Trump Tax Return Drama.
To explain a nondisclosure agreement (NDA); or confidentially agreement, is a contract not to divulge information. Generally, companies use NDAs to protect trade secrets, patented technology, and other valuable information.
However, some people and organizations use NDAs to keep everything secret. For instance, President Donald J. Trump’s (R-New York) election organization had staffers sign NDAs to keep everything about the campaign secret, Fox News claims.
In addition, people sometimes use nondisclosure agreements to settle lawsuits. Usually, a litigant has to return settlement money if he or she breaks the NDA. For example, Trump had porn star Stormy Daniels sign an NDA to stop her from discussing an alleged sexual encounter, ABC News claims.
Is Nondisclosure Keeping Trump’s Tax Return Secret?
Under these circumstances, Trump and his family could be legally obligated to keep his tax returns secrets.
To explain, Trump’s tax return could reveal payments to settle lawsuits and the identity of litigants. Thus if the return becomes public, it could break any NDAs Trump signed. Hence, those litigants will be free to sell what they know about the President to the media.
In addition, both the President and the Trump Organization could face costly litigation and embarrassing situations. For instance, attorneys could subpoena the president to testify in lawsuits.
Consequently, it could be legally impossible for Trump to make his tax returns public. Additionally, the NDAs could keep Trump from revealing legitimate reasons to keep the returns private to the public.
Hence, nondisclosure agreements could explain Trump’s lawsuit to keep his companies’ records secret. To explain, The Guardian reports Trump’s family; and seven companies, are suing Deutsche Bank and Capital One to stop those entities from complying with subpoenas for financial records.
The President is in a Very Embarrassing Situation
This puts both the President and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a very embarrassing position. To explain, Trump and Mnuchin face subpoenas from the US House of Representatives demanding the tax returns. However, it could be legally impossible for Trump to turn the returns over.
Meanwhile, Congress has the legal power to demand anybody’s tax returns with a committee access provision. The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee is formally requesting the President’s Tax Return, Vox reports.
To elaborate, the Committee argues a 1924 law requires Mnuchin to hand the returns over. However, White Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney claims the committee has no right to the returns because of court rulings.
However, I think Trump’s tax returns will probably end up in the Committee’s hands and become public record. Consequently, the President could be in a very embarrassing and costly situation, even if the returns reveal nothing illegal or unethical.
Is it time to get Rid of Nondisclosure Agreements?
In the final analysis, the Trump Tax Return drama shows nondisclosure agreements are a threat to transparency, the free-flow of information, open-sourced business models, and free speech. To explain, information voters deserve is being kept secret for questionable legal reasons.
Nor is it just the President’s tax returns that are secret. Journalist Nancy Erika Smith alleges an NDA prevents her from discussing Fox News’ decision to kill a Stormy Daniels story during the 2016 election. Moreover, Smith claims the NDA kept her from selling the Daniels story to other news outlets.
Current events show getting rid of nondisclosure agreements could be a good idea whose time has come. Restricting the use of nondisclosure agreements to limited areas like trade secrets is another notion worth considering.
No matter how you look at it, nondisclosure agreements are becoming a threat to free speech and openness.