With all the concern about hackers, government secrets and security these days, I’ve come up with a brilliant plan for protecting sensitive documents: We should staple them all to Hillary Clinton’s bank speeches or Donald Trump’s tax returns — and they’ll never be seen again. Because even as both candidates have stumbled through this election, they have guarded those papers like jungle cats.
Let’s start with Trump. For years he has ragged on other presidential contenders for not opening their tax folders in a timely manner. But he has steadily refused to release his returns for months now, saying he’s being audited by the IRS. I understand that some zealous lawyers or accountants may have told him to do that, but it does feel a tad disjointed — like saying “No, I can’t go skateboarding because my bathtub is full of waffles.” Even the IRS has said nothing prevents individuals from sharing their tax information.
In any event he insists “there is nothing to learn” from his returns, and that is absurd. We could learn how much he is really worth, how much he pays in taxes, and how much he gives to charity for a start. Maybe we’d even find out what his haircuts cost, which would not really matter but would certainly be entertaining.
As for Clinton — she’s had her own surreal explanation for keeping the contents of her highly paid bank speeches under lock and key. Each time she has been asked about it, she has quickly pivoted to the actions of the other candidates. Now it is down to just Trump, and she is suggesting his failure to release tax returns somehow absolves her of any responsibility to show us her speeches. In other words, she is sort of basing her ethics on Trump’s ethics, which is odd considering she says he’s unfit for office.
It’s all very convenient. Each nominee refuses to allow the public to look at papers many political analysts and historians say should be on the record, and then each blames someone else for his/her secrecy.
Wonder why polls show these two are the most mistrusted candidates in moderns times? They’ve earned that distinction. And they keep earning it every day those papers stay locked away.
(CNN’s Tom Foreman is the author of "My Year of Running Dangerously")