Weekly Democratic Address
April 7, 2017
I’m Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and it’s my honor to represent the hardworking people of Brooklyn and Queens in one of the most diverse districts in the nation. Almost a third of the people I serve were born outside of the United States. People from all over the world come to Brooklyn and Queens to pursue the American dream.
Growing up in Brooklyn, my Grandmother often told my younger brother and me that if you get a good education, work hard on your job and play by the rules, you can make a life for yourself in this great country. I’ve never forgotten those words. Abraham Lincoln once said, “we deserve a government of the people, by the people and for the people.” Everyone, including the President of the United States, should play by the rules. That’s the American way.
Unfortunately, Donald Trump sees things differently. As we approach Tax Day, it’s important to remember that every President since Gerald Ford, Democrats and Republicans, have released their tax returns to the American people. Before the election, Donald Trump repeatedly promised to release his tax returns, just like Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama before him. But as President, Donald Trump has broken this promise.
Is he hiding something from the American people? I certainly hope not. Here’s what I do know. The American people deserve an answer to that question. The tax return issue is about fairness. It’s about being straight with the American people. It’s about playing by the rules.
There is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the White House when it comes to our President. He came to Washington on a promise to drain the swamp. But instead, by failing to keep his word and release his tax returns, Donald Trump is a living, breathing conflict of interest.
Seventeen different United States intelligence agencies have concluded that Vladimir Putin and his Russian operatives interfered with our election in order to help Donald Trump. The FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into the Russian hacking scandal, including possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin’s Russia.
This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. This is an American issue. Our Democracy was attacked. The release of the President’s tax returns will help the American people better understand the extent of Trump’s financial ties to Putin’s Russia. The American people have a right to know whether financial conflicts of interest exist between the President of the United States and a hostile foreign power.
The American people have a right to know whether the decisions being made by President Trump are in the best interest of America, or are benefiting other countries and corporations with whom he has a business relationship. The American people have a right to know whose side the President is on. His tax returns will help provide the information necessary to figure that out.
To whom much is given, much is expected. Donald Trump has been given the opportunity to lead this great nation. The least we can expect is that President Trump play by the rules and share his tax returns with the American people.