Some cheery-eyed, optimistic Republicans are discouraged, while others emphatically defend the legality of revelations found in President Trump’s recently published tax returns.
After years of speculation, the Democrats’ patience may not prove as worthwhile as previously imagined. Delivering a swift blow to the President’s re-election campaign, it may also be the final dismantling agent needed to end the “Russia-Gate” story. Either way, there is a serious problem when lower middle-class Americans are paying more in taxes than a small cluster of billionaires and the president of the United States.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, The New York Times published Russ Buettner, Susanne Craig and Mike McIntire’s investigative article “The President’s Taxes.” Documents from an unnamed source, showing a two-decade long record of the president’s tax and financial history was the article’s foundation.
Gaining widespread attention, the article raises even more questions than it answers. One of the common questions is the anonymous source’s identity and authenticity, which The New York Times states they will not reveal in efforts of protecting anonymity. According to Fox News, Texas Rep. Kevin Brady “called for an investigation into the source who released President Trump’s tax return information.” Brady claims the release was “illegal” and for “political purposes.”
The former real-estate mogul and playboy “paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency.” According to the New York Times, “in his first year in the White House, he paid another $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 out of the previous 15 years – largely because he reported losing much more money that he already made.”
These tax records also indicate that claims made by Trump about his earnings and losses, are in glaring contrast with the actual financial records. According to The Hill, “Trump claimed in his 2018 financial disclosure to have made $434.9 million that year.” Stating otherwise, The New York Times article shows that Trump’s golf courses alone, have reportedly lost more than “$315.6 million since 2000,” but despite these losses, the president still managed to make “more than $427 million between 2004 and 2018 by licensing his name and image.”
Diving deeper into the president’s financial dealings, the article shows Trump owing several major debts from loans, and their due date is nearing. Comprising the bulk of debts, the New York Times claims the president’s debt is upwards of “$421 million.”
Most of the debt is owed to Deutsche, a bank that gave Trump a $160 million loan for developing his Washington D.C. hotel. The president’s second largest creditor, as indicated from the financial records, is a firm named Ladder Capital, which granted a $100 million mortgage loan on the well-known Trump Tower in New York City and is due payment in 2022.
Undoubtedly, the campaign workers and supporters of Joe Biden are celebrating, as the Democratic candidate’s “Scranton vs. Park Avenue” argument gains credibility in light of the article. Hours before taking the stage for the first official 2020 Presidential Debate, Biden and Kamala Harris both released their tax returns, which do not show anything as interesting as President Trump’s.
Pressured by members of the press, Trump responded to the article during the latest White House Press Conference, claiming, “it’s totally fake news. Made-up. Fake.” The president went on claiming that the I.R.S. “does not treat me well…they treat me very badly” and that the true tax returns are under audit, but “when they’re not, I would be happy to show it.” Trump is the first president in United States history to refuse a public release of his personal tax returns.
Framed as the most important event from the last five years, the president’s tax returns channel Watergate energy, but the article may not deliver the sweeping blow that many hoped. The article states that “the tax records revealed no previously unknown financial connection” between the president and Russia, which may finally conclude the never-ending “Russian Collusion” theory behind the 2016 election.
However, some are still clinging onto the “Russia-Gate” theory, questioning the profits made from the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant held in Moscow. The New York Times article states, “records show that the pageant was the most profitable Miss Universe during Mr. Trump’s time as co-owner and that it generated a personal payday of $2.3 million – made possible, at least in part, by the Agalarov family, who would later help set up the infamous 2016 meeting between Trump campaign officials seeking ‘dirt’ on Mrs. Clinton and a Russian lawyer connected to the Kremlin.”
If these financial records are fabricated or inauthentic, Trump’s best move is to release the true tax returns rather than making it out to be an elaborate product of the “fake news media.” A president earning money but claiming the loss of since elected is a total conflict of interest. Clearly, working as the face of a major corporation and simultaneously owing millions in debt could impede on anyone’s decision-making process as commander-in-chief.