What Now?! – 9/28/2020

The New York Times obtained President Trump’s tax information “extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.”

“He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.” “As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. 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.”

“The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public. His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.”

In a bombshell story, the New York Times has obtained President Trump’s tax returns and other financial information for more than two decades, including detailed information from his first two years in office.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Trump paid a total of $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and the same amount in 2017. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing more money than he made.
  • In 2010, Trump actually received an income tax refund totaling $72.9 million — all the federal income tax he had paid for 2005 through 2008, plus interest.
  • The legitimacy of that refund is apparently at the center of the audit fight he’s been waging with the Internal Revenue Service — the audit he regularly uses as an excuse to not release his tax returns to the public.
  • Although Congress has gone to court seeking Trump’s tax records, some of these records were actually sent to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation in 2011 and are presumably still there.
  • Trump is personally responsible for loans of at least $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years. Should Trump be re-elected, his lenders would have to decide whether to foreclose on a sitting president as his income isn’t enough to pay them off.
  • Trump is basically broke.

It’s an extraordinary piece of reporting and proves that the tax records Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public.

The reporting is so important to understanding Trump that it has to be the first question Chris Wallace asks at the first presidential debate on Tuesday.

The United States reported 55,054 new coronavirus cases on Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

Axios: “It was the highest single-day increase since August 14, when the country reported 64,350 new cases over a 24-hour span, and suggests that the U.S. has yet to contain the spread of the virus.”

Associated Press: “Mattis and Coats, like former White House chief of staff John Kelly and former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, have refrained from more explicit condemnations, often citing a ‘duty of silence’ or a long tradition of military officials staying out of politics.”

“Efforts to draw them out are ongoing. While former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen appears disinclined to step forward, there are hopes that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might be persuaded to comment and that Coats might be urged to say more. And Kelly, a retired four-star general, is said to be on the fence and torn about the decision.”

Washington Post: “His creditors threatened to force him into personal bankruptcy, and his first wife, Ivana, wanted ‘a billion dollars’in a divorce settlement, Donald Trump said in a deposition. So he sent an accountant and a lawyer to see his father, Fred Trump Sr., who was told he needed to immediately sign a document changing the will according to his son’s wishes, according to depositions from family members.”

“It was a fragile moment for the senior Trump, who was 85 years old and had built a real estate empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He would soon be diagnosed with cognitive problems, such as being unable to recall things he was told 30 minutes earlier or remember his birth date.”

“Now, those records and other sources of information about the episode obtained by The Washington Post reveal the extent of Fred Trump Sr.’s cognitive impairment and how Donald’s effort to change his father’s will tore apart the Trump family, which continues to reverberate today.”

“A year before President Trump alarmed Americans with talk of disputing elections last week, his team started building a massive legal network to do just that,” Politico reports.

“Dozens of lawyers from three major law firms have been hired. Thousands of volunteer attorneys and poll watchers across the country have been recruited. Republicans are preparing pre-written legal pleadings that can be hurried to the courthouse the day after the election, as wrangling begins over close results and a crush of mail-in ballots. Attorneys from non-battleground states, including California, New York and Illinois, are being dispatched to more competitive areas and trained on local election laws.”

“Texas authorities have issued a warning amid concerns that the water supply in the southeast of the state may contain the brain-eating amoeba naegleria fowleri following the death of a 6-year-old boy,” Axios reports.

In One Vote Away: How a Single Supreme Court Seat Can Change History, out this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said he told President Trump at the start of the administration he was not interested in being appointed to the Supreme Court, Axios reports.

Writes Cruz: “Though I hold judges in the highest esteem, there’s a simple reason why I don’t want to be a judge: principled judges stay out of policy and political fights…. But I don’t want to stay out of policy and political fights. I want to lead them.”

“When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined President Barack Obama for lunch in his private dining room in July 2013, the White House sought to keep the event quiet — the meeting called for discretion,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Obama had asked his White House counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, to set up the lunch so he could build a closer rapport with the justice, according to two people briefed on the conversation. Treading cautiously, he did not directly bring up the subject of retirement to Justice Ginsburg, at 80 the Supreme Court’s oldest member and a two-time cancer patient.”

“He did, however, raise the looming 2014 midterm elections and how Democrats might lose control of the Senate. Implicit in that conversation was the concern motivating his lunch invitation — the possibility that if the Senate flipped, he would lose a chance to appoint a younger, liberal judge who could hold on to the seat for decades.”

Josh Marshall disagrees: “President Trump has now, unsurprisingly, chosen to nominate the far right Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. The only sensible approach is for Senate Democrats neither to meet with Barrett nor participate in the confirmation process. Even to do so in a critical posture is to add legitimacy to a process that is illegitimate.

As bad as she may be as a judge or for the future of equal justice in the United States she can never be as bad as the corruption of the process itself. It is that corruption – the court-packing scheme Republicans pushed into overdrive starting in early 2016 – that justifies, indeed requires Democrats to add seats to the Court in 2021. Distracting from that reality with a gauzy-lensed look at Barrett’s personal story and judicial merits is madness. Pure madness.

Here too politics lines up neatly with principle. This will be a high profile spectacle that will dominate the final weeks of the election and be 100% under the control of the GOP and the White House. It is literally stage managed by the GOP. All the initiative is in their hands. One might as well agree to shut down one’s own campaign for the last month of the election.

Trump is the issue in the election. It is his defeat which will allow Democrats to undo the damage of this corrupt process in 2021. No matter how bad Barrett comes off in hearings – and remember, it’s a process 100% controlled by the President and Senate Republicans – she certainly will not come off worse than Donald Trump. Why allow that? Why participate? Why feed the false claim of legitimacy?”

Politico on “Schumer’s message to Democrats: Focus on health care to beat Barrett”: “In a letter to his colleagues late Saturday, the Senate minority leader laid out how Senate Democrats will try to build opposition to Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The New Yorker said that if Barrett is confirmed, it spells the end of Obamacare, which is slated to come before the Supreme Court after Election Day.

“‘All the data show that with COVID ragingthe number one priority for the American people is health care — its affordability, accessibility and quality,’ Schumer said in the Dear Colleague note to other Democratic senators, obtained by POLITICO. ‘We must focus like a laser on health care because Judge Barrett’s record is so clear on this issue.’”

Daily Kos: “On Thursday, Sept. 24, during a Senate Judiciary Committee session, Sen. Amy Klobuchar decided to make her remarks a response to the abject intellectual wasteland that is Sen. Ted Cruz. Cruz made his remarks right before the senator from Michigan spoke and they were filled with the revisionist history lessons he has been peddling in order to try and rationalize his and other Republicans’ obsequious groveling at Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell’s feet. Cruz’s entire rhetorical acumen consists of lying and then saying the other person’s opinion is theater. This coming from a man who pretended to care about Donald Trump grossly disrespecting Cruz’s wife and father, only to turn right around and lick his boots for the last 40+ months, day in and day out.

Klobuchar was clearly infuriated by the load of horseshit being slung. She will now have to fight against the Supreme Court nomination of a woman who has herself argued against a nominee being considered at this time during an election year. Plus, Klobuchar had just listened to the current president of the United States say he couldn’t commit to a “peaceful transfer” of power if he were to, say, lose his position in a democratic election.

The Minnesota senator began her speech by remarking that she frequently follows Sen. Cruz during this committee’s hearings, “and I often have to throw out my entire plan for what I was going to say because of what he said. But I have never had an experience quite like this one.” And the rest is worth reading and watching.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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