Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Last Call For A Taxing Explanation

Oh man.

This is gonna be good.

Somebody leaked Trump's taxes to the NY Times, at least his early stuff from 1985 to 1994, and it shows Trump lost more than a billion dollars over a decade.

By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.

Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.

The data — printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 — represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career — an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.

The numbers show that in 1985, Mr. Trump reported losses of $46.1 million from his core businesses — largely casinos, hotels and retail space in apartment buildings. They continued to lose money every year, totaling $1.17 billion in losses for the decade.

In fact, year after year, Mr. Trump appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer
, The Times found when it compared his results with detailed information the I.R.S. compiles on an annual sampling of high-income earners. His core business losses in 1990 and 1991 — more than $250 million each year — were more than double those of the nearest taxpayers in the I.R.S. information for those years.

Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the 10 years. It is not known whether the I.R.S. later required changes after audits.

Since the 2016 presidential campaign, journalists at The Times and elsewhere have been trying to piece together Mr. Trump’s complex and concealed finances. While The Times did not obtain the president’s actual tax returns, it received the information contained in the returns from someone who had legal access to it. The Times was then able to find matching results in the I.R.S. information on top earners — a publicly available database that each year comprises a one-third sampling of those taxpayers, with identifying details removed. It also confirmed significant findings using other public documents, along with confidential Trump family tax and financial records from the newspaper’s 2018 investigation into the origin of the president’s wealth.

The Times contacted the White House for a statement.  Several times.  The statements kept changing.

Several weeks ago, a senior official issued a statement saying: “The president got massive depreciation and tax shelter because of large-scale construction and subsidized developments. That is why the president has always scoffed at the tax system and said you need to change the tax laws. You can make a large income and not have to pay large amount of taxes.”

On Saturday, after further inquiries from The Times, a lawyer for the president, Charles J. Harder, wrote that the tax information was “demonstrably false,” and that the paper’s statements “about the president’s tax returns and business from 30 years ago are highly inaccurate.” He cited no specific errors, but on Tuesday added that “I.R.S. transcripts, particularly before the days of electronic filing, are notoriously inaccurate” and “would not be able to provide a reasonable picture of any taxpayer’s return.”

Mark J. Mazur, a former director of research, analysis and statistics at the I.R.S., said that, far from being considered unreliable, data used to create such transcripts had undergone quality control for decades and had been used to analyze economic trends and set national policy. In addition, I.R.S. auditors often refer to the transcripts as “handy” summaries of tax returns, said Mr. Mazur, now director of the nonpartisan Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center in Washington.

In fact, the source of The Times’s newly obtained information was able to provide several years of unpublished tax figures from the president’s father, the builder Fred C. Trump. They matched up precisely with Fred Trump’s actual returns, which had been obtained by The Times in the earlier investigation.

To recap:

Donald Trump is one of the worst businessmen in American history.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

So it turns out that four years after she died in a Texas jail, Sandra Bland filmed her police stop herself in new footage only now released thanks to a Dallas news station.

As Trooper Brian Encinia angrily threatened her with a stun gun from just outside her car window, Sandra Bland recorded the encounter on her cellphone, shown in a newly released 39-second video that has prompted Ms. Bland’s family to call for a renewed investigation into her arrest and death nearly four years ago.

Ms. Bland, a 28-year-old African-American from Chicago, was taken into custody in southeast Texas following the confrontational 2015 traffic stop and was found hanging in a jail cell three days later in what was officially ruled a suicide. The case, which drew international attention, intensified outrage over the treatment of black people by white police officers and was considered a turning point in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The video surfaced for the first time publicly Monday night in an investigative report on the Dallas television station WFAA that included interviews with Ms. Bland’s family and supporters, who accused officials of concealing information that they say should have been made public early in the investigation.

The authorities released the trooper’s dashcam video days after Ms. Bland’s death but the fact that Ms. Bland recorded the encounter from the front seat of her car was not public knowledge. Cannon Lambert, a lawyer who represents the Bland family, said the video, by showing Ms. Bland with a cellphone in her hand, seriously undercut the trooper’s claim that he feared for his safety as he approached the woman’s vehicle.

“What the video shows is that Encinia had no reason to be in fear of his safety,” Mr. Lambert, who represented the family in a $1.9 million legal settlement, said in a telephone interview. “The video shows that he wasn’t in fear of his safety. You could see that it was a cellphone, he was looking right at it.”
Mr. Encinia said during internal interviews with Department of Public Safety officials that he had been worried about his safety. “My safety was in jeopardy at more than one time,” he told department interviewers.

Mr. Encinia was indicted on a charge of perjury — the only criminal charge arising from the case — after grand jurors accused him of making a false statement in his claim that he removed Ms. Bland from her car to more safely conduct a traffic investigation. But the charge was later dismissed on a motion by prosecutors in exchange for the trooper’s promise that he would never again work in law enforcement.

The prosecuting team concluded that Mr. Encinia’s permanent ban from law enforcement was the best option because there was no certainty of obtaining a conviction on the perjury charge, one of the prosecutors said at the time.

So another black person died because of police racism and hatred of black bodies in a country that has always allowed for black deaths at the hands of police.  And now, four years after Sandar Bland died, we find that police lied again.

Police exist to protect white America from black America, nothing less, and nothing more. 

The Reach To Impeach, Con't

As expected on Monday, Attorney General Bill Barr has now skipped out on delivering the full Mueller Report to House Judiciary Dems, and the contempt process is now underway.

The House Judiciary Committee will vote Wednesday to hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress, after the Justice Department appeared to miss a Monday deadline to negotiate the delivery of Robert S. Mueller III’s full report, along with key evidence collected by the special counsel.

The committee’s chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, said the vote would occur at 10 a.m. A 27-page report accompanying the vote notice on Monday recommends that Mr. Barr “shall be found to be in contempt of Congress for failure to comply with a congressional subpoena.”

The Democratic-controlled panel almost certainly will vote in favor of contempt unless the Justice Department meets the Democrats’ demands before Wednesday. The full House would then have to hold a vote. It is unclear when that would occur.

“Although the Committee has attempted to engage in accommodations with Attorney General Barr for several months, it can no longer afford to delay, and must resort to contempt proceedings,” the report submitted by Mr. Nadler said.

Jerry Nadler wouldn't be doing this without Nancy Pelosi's tacit permission, and Nancy Pelosi wouldn't be doing this unless she had the votes to hold Barr in contempt.  Now, there's room here for Pelosi to wiggle, as she by no means has to hold the vote right away.

Also, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is not turning over Trump's tax returns, and he says it's unconstitutional so he won't do it.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday told House Democrats he would not furnish President Trump’s tax returns despite their legal request, the latest move by Trump administration officials to shield the president from congressional investigations.

Mnuchin, in a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), said he had consulted with the Justice Department and that they had concluded that it would not be lawful for the Trump administration to turn over the tax returns because of potential violations of privacy.

Mnuchin added that requests from Congress “must serve a legitimate legislative purpose” and that the request from Democrats does not.

A number of legal experts have said it would be unprecedented for Mnuchin to refuse to turn over the tax returns, as the power for lawmakers to seek the returns is written explicitly in a 1924 law.

But Mnuchin, Trump’s former campaign finance chairman, has fought to protect the returns from public disclosure and said it would create a dangerous precedent if the returns are released. Mnuchin’s announcement on Monday appears to be his final decision in the matter, though he has hinted for weeks that he would not allow the release.

Neal said in a statement on Monday evening, “I will consult with counsel and determine the appropriate response.”

So at this point both Mnuchin and Barr are daring House Democrats to do anything, and they're absolutely betting on this turning into "Well both sides do it!" rather than "Republicans are openly breaking the law."  That's already starting to be the case.

Besides the Trump regime is counting on nobody caring anyway. Steve M:

President Trump doesn't believe he needs legislative accomplishments in order to be reelected. (Being reelected is his only real goal as president, because he likes the glory and he wants to stay out of legal trouble.) He doesn't care about an infrastructure bill or a prescription drug plan. And because he's a malignant narcissist, he's not concerned about the harm he might do if he plunges the U.S. into another debt ceiling crisis, any more than he cared about the harm that came from shutting down much of the government late last year.

Trump has one goal from now until November: to maximize his lib ownage every day. He thinks he can win reelection with a base-only strategy, and he may be right: the Electoral College, vote suppression in red-but-trending-purple states, third-party candidacies, and the likely complicity of the mainstream media in catapulting GOP propaganda all mean that he could very well win. Sure, he'd take a couple of legislative accomplishments, but for his one win in that area, the tax bill, he relied on Mitch McConnell to do all the hard work, and since McConnell knows that the success of his delegation depends exclusively on lib ownage, he's not going to lift a finger -- certainly not to pass legislation that appeals to moderates and might get Democratic votes.

So, no, Democrats have no leverage -- not that they'd use it if they had it, because, y'know, they're Democrats. There's nothing Trump feels he needs that only they can provide, so they have no power over him at all.

Unless Dems are willing to start putting Bill Barr and Steven Mnuchin in jail for contempt, Steve is right.  Trump is going to win this, we'll never see his tax returns, we'll never see the full Mueller report, and nobody in America will give a good god damn about either way as long as there's not a recession.

Barr and Mnuchin will not be compelled to lift a finger, and that's basically the end of the ballgame for this country.

We'll see.


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