An MSNBC contributor on Thursday called for a “bipartisan commission” to vet presidential candidates and prevent someone like President Donald Trump from winning the White House ever again.
NBC News National Security Contributor Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director of the FBI, said Trump’s tax returns as reported by the New York Times show he is “the most vulnerable president in our history” to compromise by foreign governments and is a national security threat. He believes the media and the 60 million people who voted for Trump in 2016 failed to properly vet him before he became president and the remedy is to have a bipartisan committee vet presidential candidates instead of the American people.
“He is the most vulnerable president in our history in terms of compromise and potential exposure to those who want to help him dig out of his financial pit in return for a price,” Figliuzzi said of Trump in a segment discussing the president’s tax returns.
Figliuzzi claimed the tax returns show how foreign governments could pressure Trump into making policy decisions that benefit their interests instead of the interests of the United States. He did not provide an example of a policy the president implemented that’s benefitted foreign governments and harmed the United States.
“There’s also another layer to this which is that when you’re this entangled with Russia and the former Soviet bloc you’re going to run smack into organized crime figures,” Figliuzzi added.
“So there’s too many gaps in the tax returns. There’s too many questions. Why is this president paying more to foreign nations in taxes than he is to the United States? How does he cover his debt? Who’s doing that for him? What’s the Deutsche Bank connection? Why are there so many golf courses losing so much money and why the continued purchase of those properties?”
But President Trump is not “paying more to foreign nations in taxes than he is to the United States.”
Berkeley professor Robert Reich recently made a similar claim, suggesting that the New York Times report on Trump’s taxes shows he only paid $750 in federal taxes in 2017 but nearly $300,000 in taxes to foreign governments that same year.
The New York Times report does not show that. The Times, in fact, reported that Trump paid the U.S. Treasury $1 million in 2016 and $4.2 million for income taxes that he might owe in 2017. This does not account for property taxes, payroll taxes, real estate taxes, or any other non-income taxes that Trump and his businesses paid to the United States in the years the New York Times reported.
On the basis of the unproven claim that Trump’s finances have made him vulnerable to foreign governments and a national security threat, Figluzzi suggested radical electoral reform is needed to make sure a candidate like Trump is never elected again.
“We’ve got to have a national discussion about how we vet a presidential candidate,” Figliuzzi said. “We screwed this up. Whether it’s the media not digging deeply enough, whether it’s a time to have a discussion about a bipartisan committee that demands tax returns, make that a requirement, or exposes financial pictures for candidates.”
“We got this wrong and this can’t happen again,” he concluded.