DON’T MESS WITH TAXES. President Trump has taken to saying that no one cares about his taxes. And it’s true that he was able to win office while thumbing his nose at the transparency norm of releasing his tax returns while running for the White House. But the drumbeat of interest in them is not going away, and now the White House petition site registered a new milestone, the pro-transparency Sunlight Foundation noted Monday: The petition to “Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance” passed more than 1 million signatures since it was launched on Inauguration Day. White House petitions need to draw more than 100,000 signatures within 30 days to be considered for an official response from the White House. The previous record holder was a 2012 petition to recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group, with more than 387,000 signatures, according to a Pew study of the White House petition site.
That Trump tax release petition is just one of a number of ongoing efforts to create public — and legal — pressure on the president to release his tax returns. “Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have proposed bills to prevent access to the presidential ballot without disclosing federal tax returns,” the AP reported Sunday. These measures are unlikely to succeed in most states where they have been proposed even if they make it through state legislatures, because their Republican governors — such as New Jersey’s Chris Christie — are almost certain not to sign them into law. Only five of the 16 states have Democratic governors. But even if only California and New York adopted the measures, turning what was a campaign norm into a campaign law, that would have some kind of impact in a world where the president needs solid support in those states to have a chance of winning the popular vote.
Elsewhere, a coalition of progressive groups has launched plans for a series of protests in more than 60 cities on April 15 to demand that Trump release his tax returns. The main Tax March will be held in Washington, D.C.
ON THE TOWN. Taxes came up at a town hall meeting Monday as well. CNN’s Kyung Lah was at Republican Rep. Scott Taylor’s town hall in Virginia, where attendees grumbled at his answer — he threw it back on them to hold Trump accountable for releasing his tax returns.
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) February 21, 2017
He was also booed for answering “not yet” when asked if he’d support an investigation into Trump’s Russia ties.
— Kyung Lah (@KyungLahCNN) February 21, 2017
HOW IT’S PLAYING IN PEORIA. Many Republican members of Congress are pulling back from town halls this district work period. But that doesn’t mean they are going to be able to avoid protesters, as Illinois GOP Rep. Darin LaHood discovered in Peoria Monday. Reports 25 News – Week of East Peoria: “Here in Central Illinois a group protested outside the Farm Bureau office in Peoria where Congressman Darin Lahood spoke Monday. Armed with signs and a cardboard look alike of 18th District Congressman Darin Lahood about a dozen protesters stood outside the Farm Bureau building in Peoria. They got there about an hour before Lahood arrived to speak to farmers gathered inside. … The protesters claim they have been trying to get a town Hall meeting with Lahood for some time concerning everything from the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act, to the travel ban and deregulation of big business.”
MISSING MEMBERS. In Murfreesboro, Tenn., activists weren’t able to confront their member of Congress — GOP Rep. Scott DesJarlais — directly, so they held their meeting without him on Saturday. Reports WKRN: “Dozens of people who say Rep. Scott DesJarlais isn’t around to listen to their concerns met outside his office in Murfreesboro Saturday. They passed out flyers with his picture on it that read, ‘Missing: Have you seen this man?’ Members of the groups Rutherford Indivisible and Alliance for Healthcare Security say they’ve been trying to convince the representative of Tennessee’s fourth congressional district to hold a public town hall event, but he hasn’t responded.”
FROM THE ‘YOU CAN’T WIN IF YOU DON’T PLAY’ FILES. Because the midterm congressional elections aren’t until 2018 and because the Democratic Party has been so thoroughly decimated up and down the ticket, activists and organizers have vowed to start the process of rebuilding the party at lower levels and with whatever contests do come up. In Virginia, Democrats “plan to challenge 45 GOP incumbents in the deep-red House of Delegates this November, including 17 lawmakers whose districts voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton,” the Washington Post reports. If they do this, “it would be a significant increase over 2015, when only 21 Democrats ran against GOP lawmakers.” The Virginia GOP holds 66 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates. A robust down-ticket effort might also help with the goal of winning the Virginia gubernatorial race in 2017, which along with New Jersey’s gubernatorial contest is shaping up to be an early test of whether the resistance can make a difference at the ballot box.
NOT MY PRESIDENT’S DAY. Thousands turned out for the “Not My President” Presidents’ Day protests in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, while a smaller crowd gathered in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., before heading off on an impromptu, non-permitted march down 16th Street to the White House.
Protests in Portland saw one injury.
— Dave Killen (@killendave) February 20, 2017
And in Chicago, protests began with a rally outside Trump Tower and continued with a march and “dance party” led by individuals wearing bandanas over half their faces (click through for the whole thread of images).
— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) February 20, 2017
DAKOTA ACCESS DEADLINE. The number of Standing Rock campers has dwindled from thousands to hundreds, and those remaining have been given a Feb. 22 deadline to leave the No Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp or risk arrest. While the encampment — which has been in place since the summer — was at one time the largest gathering of different tribes in a century, as it shrank leaders of two of the larger protesting tribes split on whether or not it should continue, with the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux saying it is time to seek higher ground in advance of spring flooding and the Cheyenne River Sioux chairman disagreeing. Now a Wednesday confrontation is brewing between campers and authorities, and on Monday night, those remaining released a video calling for help and a media spotlight on how that confrontation is handled.
My friends in Standing Rock just sent this to me & asked me to share it. They are surrounded by militarized police RIGHT NOW. pic.twitter.com/plR0Tfaagc
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 21, 2017
(Cover thumbnail photo: Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)
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