Smoking peace pipe with party, Donald Trump walks back on threat to ban Muslims from entering US

 

Presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump walked back on his threat to ban Muslims from entering the United States as he walked up Capitol Hill in Washington DC on Thursday to meet the party establishment and old guard that has deep reservations about his insurgent candidature, his inchoate statements, and his indeterminate ideology.

Trump said in a radio interview on Wednesday that his repeated assertion about banning Muslims from coming to the US is “just a suggestion.” Besides, he added, “the ban would only be temporary … until we find out what’s going on.”

To do that, he proposed to set up a commission under former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Although Giuliani had said such a step (banning Muslims) would be unconstitutional, he welcomed the idea of a commission to study radical Islam.

The back and forth is just one of Trump’s serial inconsistencies as he strode into the GOP-controlled Congress, where Republican lawmakers are divided over backing him.

Depending on which state and which district they come from and the nature of their electorate, some moderate lawmakers are fearful that supporting him will damage their re-election prospects, while others are concerned that opposing him will hurt them politically.

Concurrent with the Presidential election on November 8, the entire 435-member House of Representatives, a third of the 100-member Senate, (both of which have Republican majority), and 12 state governorships (eight held by Democrats) will be going to the polls.

Trump, who does not appear to have an eye or ear or concern for the electoral prospects of anyone but his own, boasted before the meeting that he has the mandate to be provocative, and sees no particular reason to temper his words or positions as advised by the party grandees.

But a joint statement issued at the end of his meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had refused to back him, spoke of the common ground between the two sides and the need for party unity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November, suggesting that there would be some give and take. The two sides described it as a good first meeting and that there would be additional discussions to unify the party.

However, a new controversy over Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax returns suggested that may be easier said than done.

Trump has maintained that he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service for the past several years, and that he will release his returns once the audit is completed. Both Republican critics and Democratic opponents have attacked him for lack of transparency, with some, like Mitt Romney, the former GOP Presidential candidate, arguing that not releasing tax returns could disqualify Trump from running for the White House.

Every Presidential candidate over the past 40 years has disclosed tax returns in a rite of passage aimed at displaying transparency about one’s income and finances.

Critics have pointed out that Trump has disclosed his tax returns in the middle of an audit to prove that he can run casinos and there is no reason for him to hide it now. Besides, even Nixon released his returns in the middle of an audit.

But a joint statement issued at the end of his meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had refused to back him, spoke of the common ground between the two sides and the need for party unity to defeat Hillary Clinton and the Democrats in November, suggesting that there would be some give and take. The two sides described it as a good first meeting and that there would be additional discussions to unify the party.

However, a new controversy over Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax returns suggested that may be easier said than done.

Trump has maintained that he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service for the past several years, and that he will release his returns once the audit is completed. Both Republican critics and Democratic opponents have attacked him for lack of transparency, with some, like Mitt Romney, the former GOP Presidential candidate, arguing that not releasing tax returns could disqualify Trump from running for the White House.

Every Presidential candidate over the past 40 years has disclosed tax returns in a rite of passage aimed at displaying transparency about one’s income and finances.

Critics have pointed out that Trump has disclosed his tax returns in the middle of an audit to prove that he can run casinos and there is no reason for him to hide it now. Besides, even Nixon released his returns in the middle of an audit.

“So you got to ask yourself, why doesn’t he want to release them?” asked Hillary Clinton, adding, “Yeah, well, we’re going to find out.”

The tax return is not the only issue that can torpedo the Trump campaign. There is also the small matter of Trump’s trash talk from his days as a tawdry entertainment impresario.

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