The New York Times published a lengthy report over the weekend based, they say, on tax documents they obtained from “sources.”
Breitbart News reports that The Times “found no evidence of any links to Russia,” as has been consistently claimed by multiple news outlets over the course of the Trump’s term in office. However, they add that the documents do show the extent of the entrepreneur’s Russia connections are limited to the 2001 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow – which were “the most profitable Miss Universe during Mr. Trump’s time as co-owner, and that it generated a personal payday of $2.3 million.”
Michael Cohen. Prosecutors in New York have subpoenaed the tax returns for a criminal investigation — most likely, having to do with payments via Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen (now a convicted felon), to alleged lovers (including Stormy Daniels). The Times noted: “The materials obtained by The Times did not include any itemized payments to Mr. Cohen.” It added: “The amount, however, could have been improperly included in legal fees written off as a business expense.” That’s it.
The Audit. Democrats and journalists have mocked Trump’s long-standing claim that he could not release his tax returns because he faced an Internal Revenue Service audit. The Times confirmed the audit: “Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.” It is real, just as Trump has claimed.
There are likely other shoes to drop — and it is no accident that the Times has produced this exposé, featuring the Moby Dick of Trump’s opponents, roughly 48 hours before the first presidential debate. Trump’s tax returns, if real, and if summarized correctly by the Times, do not paint a flattering financial picture. Yet they also debunk many cherished left-wing fantasies — and they may confirm what Trump supporters have said since 2016: that he has sacrificed his personal fortune to serve.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday at the White House, Trump dismissed the report as “fake news” and said he has paid taxes, though he gave no specifics. He also vowed that information about his taxes “will all be revealed,” but he offered no timeline for the disclosure.
For its part, The Times said it refused to provide a full copy of the documents to Trump Organizations attorney Alan Garten “in order to protect its sources.”
Reacting to what the news outlet did share, Garten said that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate.”
The attorney said in a statement to The Times that the president “has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015.”
In a separate, public statement, Garten elaborated, “While we tried numerous times to explain this to the Times, they refused to listen and rejected our repeated request that they show us any of the documentation they purport to be relying on the substantiate their claims.”
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) September 27, 2020
The Times’ report claims the New York billionaire paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for president and in his first year in the White House, and that he paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years.
In subsequent reports about the income tax filing details, media have described the disclosures as a complication to President Trump’s brand as a “shrewd and patriotic businessman,” and instead show a “series of financial losses and income from abroad that could come into conflict with his responsibilities as president.”
Among the specifics are details from his 2018 returns, where The Times claim he earned at least $434.9 million in, “but the tax filings reported a $47.4 million loss.”
The Times’ report comes days before the pivotal first debate between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been battling rumors of illness and dementia in the months leading up to the one-on-one confrontation.
During his first campaign for the presidency and since in office, Mr. Trump has fielded court challenges against those seeking access to his returns, including the U.S. House, which is suing for access to Trump’s tax returns as part of congressional oversight.
The Times reports that in his first two years as president, Trump received $73 million from foreign operations, which in addition to his golf properties in Scotland and Ireland included $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million from Turkey. The president in 2017 paid $145,400 in taxes in India and $156,824 in the Philippines, compared to just $750 in U.S. income taxes.
Trump is the only president who has refused to make his tax returns public since the practice was started in the late 1960s by Michigan’s then-governor George Romney as a failed gambit to gain support from the Republican primary voters in a bid for the presidential nomination in 1967-68. The rationale, Romney said at the time, was that as a public servant, the public had a right to know who was paying him.
In contrast, Donald Trump held no public office prior to his campaign for the presidency in 2016.
During his first general election debate against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, Clinton said that perhaps Trump wasn’t releasing his tax returns because he had paid nothing in federal taxes.
Trump interrupted her to say, “That makes me smart.”
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Christina Botteri is the Executive Editor of The Tennessee Star. The Associated Press contributed to this report.