The answer: Trump’s tax returns

The question: How can we better understand Trump’s dealings with Russia?

Every Republican presidential nominee for the last nine elections released his tax returns. Before that, Gerald Ford (1976) released a summary showing total income and tax paid, though not the detailed return.

Nixon (1972) did not release his returns at first, but released a lot of information, including the previous four years of tax returns, in  December of 1973, after the I.R.S. began an audit based on allegations of his trying to game the tax code with questionable charity donations, according to a paper prepared for the United States Capitol Historical Society

Nixon tried to quiet criticism by asking that a congressional committee examine the returns as well. Unfortunately, that committee found that Nixon owed $476,431 in unpaid taxes and accrued interest, which in today’s dollars is over two million.

Note that Nixon released his returns while under audit. Trump’s favorite excuse for not releasing his returns was that they were under audit, which as has been pointed out over and over, is a completely made-up smoke screen.

Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign to eventually release his returns. Some quotes from the campaign trail:

February 25, 2015: “I would release tax returns….I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary….I have no objection to certainly showing tax returns.”

January 24, 2016: “We’re working on that now. I have very big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful, and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time….We’re working on it right now, and at the appropriate time you’ll be very satisfied.”

February 25, 2016: “I will absolutely give my return, but I’m being audited now for two or three years, so I can’t do it until the audit is finished, obviously.”

May 10, 2016: “I’ll release. Hopefully before the election I’ll release.”

September 26, 2016: “I don’t mind releasing—I’m under a routine audit. And it’ll be released….As soon as the audit’s finished, it will be released.”

October 9, 2016: “As soon as my routine audit is finished, I’ll release my returns. I’ll be very proud to. They’re actually quite great.”

Here’s a more complete list, pre-dating the campaign, which includes a promise to release his returns when Obama releases his long form birth certificate.

OK, so Trump is a liar. Big whoop. Tell us something we didn’t already know.

But what exactly is in those tax returns that makes the man-baby hang onto them like grim death? Wouldn’t it be easier to resolve all the Russia questions just by releasing them? Is it so awful that he’d rather start a democracy-destabilizing Twitter war over made up wire-tapping accusations before showing them?

There are several things that Trump really doesn’t want you to know, that would be revealed in his taxes.

One of the less consequential is that we’d see how really uncharitable he has been, especially compared to other national figures, for example Barack Obama, who in 2009 gave over 30% of his income away, including the entire $1.4 million Nobel Prize.

But we kind of already knew Trump was not a generous or compassionate person. Small potatoes.

Much more interesting would be the revelation that he doesn’t actually own much property at all, just partial stakes in three buildings, and he has 500 million in debt obligations on those. Everyone would finally see that he isn’t what he claims to be in this area.

But the big revelation would be where his money actually comes from, and the huge scam he’s been running for years. Remember the scam in  “The Producers”? You sell a 50% stake in a show you knew was going to fail to as many people as you can. You pocket the money and hope the show fails right away. Then you tell the investors, “Aw, tough luck, partner – we’ll get ’em next time.”

Well that’s what Trump did with the banks during his casino-failure heyday. He was Max Bialystock times a million. When they finally wised up and stopped lending him money in the 1990’s, he turned to Russia and China, and now is deep in debt to them. Just how much is what we might learn from his tax returns.

Maybe someone in the “deep state” will help us out here. It’s our best chance at getting rid of this toxic clown. Where is Wikileaks when you really need them?


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