From Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, every U.S. president elected after the 1970s has publicly released their tax returns — every one except Donald Trump, who has said he will do so after an IRS audit is completed. Journalists, seeking information about Trump’s tax returns, have been pursuing Trump’s Deutsche Bank records — and on Wednesday, a coalition of major media organizations filed a motion in federal court to unseal redacted names on documents having to do with his taxes.
The motion was submitted by attorneys representing a who’s-who of mainstream media outlets, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press (AP), CNN and Politico. And in their motion, they argued that the American public has a right to know what is in those documents.
The motion asserted, “Deutsche Bank recently informed the court that it has tax returns relating to some of the Trump-related entities or individuals, but redacted the names of these entities and/or individuals from its submission to the court. Through this motion, (the coalition) seek to enforce the public’s First Amendment and common law rights of access to judicial proceedings and the records therein — specifically, to unseal the redacted names so as to be able to inform the public which persons’ or entities’ tax returns are at issue in this litigation.”
Attorneys for Deutsche Bank have defended the redactions as being legally necessary in order to protect the privacy of clients. But the coalition of media organizations disagrees.
In their motion, they explained, “There is no genuine privacy concern implicated by Deutsche Bank confirming what is already widely understood: that it has copies of certain of the president’s or his affiliates’ financial records. But it would set a disturbing precedent to allow redactions of such rudimentary facts to go unchallenged, particularly in a case involving a sitting president.”