Bill Weld calls for tax return mandate

Bill Weld said federal law should require all presidential candidates to reveal five years of past income tax returns.

BOSTON — Republican 2020 White House hopeful Bill Weld said if elected he would pursue a federal law to require that all presidential candidates disclose their past five years of tax returns and make public tax filings every year the president is in office.

During a speech Tuesday night before the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston, the former Massachusetts governor and federal prosecutor accused President Donald Trump of lying and misleading the American people.

“We are living under a President who has hidden from the people not only his questionable business dealings of the past but the degree to which he and his family are profiting off of his election to the highest office in the land right now,” Weld said in prepared remarks.

“He lied directly to the people when he said he had no business dealings with Russia and continues to lie and mislead today.”

Weld said the public has a right to know whether its president has private financial conflicts of interest that could affect his or her public actions.

“The American people have a constitutional right to know if their president profits from relationships — personal or business — with foreign adversaries,” Weld said.

“As president, I will ask Congress to send me a bill in the first 100 days that requires presidential candidates to share with the American people five years of their past tax returns and their tax filings for every year they are in office. The president of the United States of America must always be held accountable to the people.”

Trump said he would not release his returns while they were under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

Weld also said he would ask Congress to endorse an amendment to the federal Constitution that would set term limits of three terms or six years in the U.S. House and two 6-year terms in the Senate.

This would require a two-thirds majority vote in both congressional branches.

“Our congressmen and women spend hours a day busily cold-calling potential donors like telemarketers, then rush off to vote on legislation they haven’t even read,” Weld said. “There is, however, a simple solution that we know from decades of polling the overwhelming majority of Americans’ support: congressional term limits. I have supported term limits since the beginning of my time in public service.”

In his remarks, Weld also railed against bloated spending and unpaid-for tax cuts he said combined to lead to record federal debt and deficits.

“A notable dereliction of duty coming from those in Washington, D.C., is the outrageous and ever-growing national debt. No party or recent president is immune from responsibility for this debt, but this President is already to blame for nearly $3 trillion in additional debt, and his proposals will grow our national debt to a staggering $30 trillion in seven years,” Weld said.

“His tax cuts were a nod in a beneficial direction, but they did not benefit enough Americans and, worst of all, his tax cuts were not accompanied by spending cuts.”

After his speech, Weld said Trump’s obstruction of justice conduct was worse than the Watergate cover up under President Richard Nixon.

Weld said he remained uncertain if impeachment was the proper response because Trump could use that political effort against his foes throughout his 2020 reelection campaign.

“This was far worse than anything Nixon did ... absolutely well beyond Nixon,” Weld said.