Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Last Call For A Taxing Explanation, Con't

Reporters at ProPublica got their hands on some of the Trump Organization's real estate tax info, and if the pattern is consistent across the board with the examples they have (and let's face it, Trump has a 40-year history of this) Orange Racist Grandpa is a fraudster who's destined for the pokey.

Documents obtained by ProPublica show stark differences in how Donald Trump’s businesses reported some expenses, profits and occupancy figures for two Manhattan buildings, giving a lender different figures than they provided to New York City tax authorities. The discrepancies made the buildings appear more profitable to the lender — and less profitable to the officials who set the buildings’ property tax
For instance, Trump told the lender that he took in twice as much rent from one building as he reported to tax authorities during the same year, 2017. He also gave conflicting occupancy figures for one of his signature skyscrapers, located at 40 Wall Street. 
Lenders like to see a rising occupancy level as a sign of what they call “leasing momentum.” Sure enough, the company told a lender that 40 Wall Street had been 58.9% leased on Dec. 31, 2012, and then rose to 95% a few years later. The company told tax officials the building was 81% rented as of Jan. 5, 2013. 
A dozen real estate professionals told ProPublica they saw no clear explanation for multiple inconsistencies in the documents. The discrepancies are “versions of fraud,” said Nancy Wallace, a professor of finance and real estate at the Haas School of Business at the University of California-Berkeley. “This kind of stuff is not OK.” 
New York City’s property tax forms state that the person signing them “affirms the truth of the statements made” and that “false filings are subject to all applicable civil and criminal penalties.” 
The punishments for lying to tax officials, or to lenders, can be significant, ranging from fines to criminal fraud charges. Two former Trump associates, Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, are serving prison time for offenses that include falsifying tax and bank records, some of them related to real estate. 
“Certainly, if I were sitting in a prosecutor’s office, I would want to ask a lot more questions,” said Anne Milgram, a former attorney general for New Jersey who is now a professor at New York University School of Law. 
Trump has previously been accused of manipulating numbers on his tax and loan documents, including by his former lawyer, Cohen. But Trump’s business is notoriously opaque, with records rarely surfacing, and up till now there’s been little documentary evidence supporting those claims. 
That’s one reason that multiple governmental entities, including two congressional committees and the office of the Manhattan district attorney, have subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns. Trump has resisted, taking his battles to federal courts in Washington and New York. And so the question of whether different parts of the government can see the president’s financial information is now playing out in two appeals courts and seems destined to make it to the U.S. Supreme Court. Add to that a Washington Post account of an IRS whistleblower claiming political interference in the handling of the president’s audit, and the result is what amounts to frenetic interest in one person’s tax returns. 
ProPublica obtained the property tax documents using New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents were public because Trump appealed his property tax bill for the buildings every year for nine years in a row, the extent of the available records. We compared the tax records with loan records that became public when Trump’s lender, Ladder Capital, sold the debt on his properties as part of mortgage-backed securities. 
ProPublica reviewed records for four properties: 40 Wall Street, the Trump International Hotel and Tower, 1290 Avenue of the Americas and Trump Tower. Discrepancies involving two of them — 40 Wall Street and the Trump International Hotel and Tower — stood out.

Tax fraud, Al Capone, yadda yadda.

Hey, it worked.

Meanwhile In Bevinstan...

The Kentucky governor's race, as widely expected, has tightened up.  If you believe the polls, that is.  Four years ago, the polls were wrong.  Badly wrong.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is tied with his Democratic rival just three weeks before Election Day in a race President Trump's political team is watching closely. 
A new survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy finds Bevin and state Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) tied at 46 percent each. 
That's an improvement for Bevin, whose job approval rating has been underwater for years. The last time Mason-Dixon surveyed the race, in December, Beshear led by 8 points. 
Bevin is still unpopular; just 45 percent of voters approve of the job he's doing as governor, while 48 percent disapprove. But the incumbent is moving in the right direction — his approval rating has climbed 7 points since December, despite a brutal primary campaign in which Bevin only narrowly won the Republican nomination. 
The rifts from that primary campaign seem to have healed. Bevin is now winning more than three quarters of the Republican vote, according to the poll, as well as 22 percent of Democrats, likely those who live in ancestrally Democratic areas where coal jobs and union membership were once dominant. 
Independent voters break for Beshear by a 46 percent to 38 percent margin, the poll finds. Beshear leads by double digits in Louisville and Lexington, while Bevin holds big advantages in the rural eastern and western sections of the state. 
Few other public surveys have tested Kentucky's electorate, but Democrats have been optimistic about Beshear's chances in recent months, especially in the wake of the vicious Republican primary.

So, like four years ago, it's all about turnout.  The turnout models four years ago were all wrong, missing the nascent Trump wave and the white rural rage it represented, turning what should have been Jack Conway 11 point win into a seven point loss.

But Bevin isn't Trump, and he's still hurt a lot of people in the last four years.  He's still unpopular, just not the most unpopular in the nation anymore.

We'll see in three weeks.

A Syria's Case Of Withdrawal, Con't

The GOP "principled opposition" to Donald Trump's withdrawal of US troops from Syria and betrayal of Syrian Kurds never existed, because there is no GOP that exists that doesn't support Donald Trump in everything he does.

The Republican rebellion against President Donald Trump was short-lived. 
Republicans unleashed perhaps their most aggressive outcry of the Trump era after he abandoned the U.S.’ Kurdish allies and ceded northeastern Syria to Turkey. But now GOP lawmakers are dialing back their direct criticism of the president — instead working with Trump, dinging Democrats and trying to move forward.

Senior Republicans are coordinating with Trump’s top officials to try to rein in Turkey with sanctions and protect the Kurds, and while they’re still dissatisfied with the situation, they’ve shifted gears away from confrontation with the president.

“I do appreciate what the administration has done against Turkey through executive action, but more to follow,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told reporters Tuesday afternoon, after joining Trump for a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday. “I appreciate the phone calls yesterday with Erdogan, I think [Trump] reached out in a good way to let Turkey know they needed a cease-fire right now.” 
“I blame Turkey, but I look to President Trump to fix this,” Graham added later on Fox News. 
It was just a few days ago that Graham let loose on Trump as potentially “tired of fighting radical Islam” and compared him to one of the GOP’s key rivals, Barack Obama. The president has since embraced sanctions, engaged with Erdogan and dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence to Turkey to start cease-fire talks. Trump’s administration will spend the week shoring up Republican support. 
But already, the GOP fury toward Trump is winding down — just the latest example of how eager Republicans are to avoid a breach with the president and a reminder of how difficult it will be for Democrats to win over Republicans in the fast-moving impeachment inquiry
“Look, Obama didn’t have a strategy in Syria and unfortunately that’s what President Trump inherited. This was an untenable situation in a civil war,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “I don’t think the actual decision, itself, is surprising when you consider the alternatives.”

The GOP reality is whatever Trump says it is.  The Kurds were always "Obama's failure" and pretty soon they will never have been considered our allies in the first place.  Meanwhile, Turkish President Erdogan is busy splitting the pot with Syrian genocide fan Bashar al-Assad and telling VP Mike Pence to wait in the hallway.

The clown show rolls on.


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