September surprise

Given what I do for a living, people understandably are asking me what I think of the blockbuster New York Times story about the long-hidden, now revealed, tax returns filed over the years by our president, Orange Caligula. I just took my first spin through the remarkable new article, and here are some initial takeaways:

  • To no one's surprise, Trump is not really a successful businessman.
  • He is deeply (nine figures) in debt personally (although we still don't know exactly to whom). 
  • He pays little or no federal income tax because his tax returns show little or no profit.
  • The tax returns claim a number of suspect deductions, including a consulting fee that may have been paid to Ivanka, expenses for a family vacation resort, and a criminal lawyer's fee. In addition, a $70 million federal income tax refund that Trump received (along with another $20 million from state and local taxing authorities) was based on a questionable claim that he abandoned, rather than exchanged, an interest in a partnership.
  • Congress has had several of Trump's tax returns for years, because when he filed for the big refund, it was so large that by law the IRS must keep the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation copied on results of its audit of the matter. The audit is still ongoing, apparently, and Trump's people have extended the statute of limitations (which is pretty routine, but the years in question are now unusually old).

It's hard to tell exactly what the Times is looking at. They are calling it "tax return data." That indicates that they don't have the actual returns. But the details the reporters are discussing go beyond what would appear in a cursory IRS "transcript" of the taxpayer's records, which might be easier to get. The Times says that its source or sources had "legal access" to what they showed the newspaper folks.

You know that Donnie will be suing people left and right over this. And you know that Bill "Robespierre" Barr will be opening a criminal investigation into the leak, first thing in the morning.

But the questions for Orange Caligula won't be going away. Fake billionaire? Tax fraud artist? Both?


  1. Thanks for the clarification, Jack. Hope you are well.

  2. When I read how much money he made on "The Apprentice" in the New York Times article this morning (I know, I should get the NYT on line and save the paper but I look at the "screen" all day, probably like Jack Bogdanski and so many others) I wondered why Orange Caligula doesn't describe himself as a "reality TV star" rather than as a real estate investor and businessman. The parallels to "The Apprentice" and President Trump's first term in office seem extraordinary, since both with the actors on the TV show and the White House Senior staff, they all get fired at some point. My prediction, but I've been wrong before, is the next one to go may well be FBI Director Christopher Wray. But even if he does go, my sense is that his landing won't be as hard as some others. Perhaps he can go back to King and Spalding.

  3. As far as the paper trail, Trump's problems certainly involve bank fraud. Specifically he'd state the value of one property as a huge number when he was using it as collateral to get a loan but when it was time to pay taxes on it that value would mysteriously plummet. But who are we kidding here? We knew Trump's business dealings were packed with legal problems from jump street. Let's start with what we know for sure: He was in the construction business in the Tri-state area and went on to be in gambling in Atlantic City. That has to be tied with the Mob. Has to be. Did you know Paul Castellano was an old family friend? So somewhere along the line Trump acquired protection and not just from the Mafia - from the Feds too. Accommodations have been made here. He was allowed to operate. His legal problems really started when he tried to change lanes from corrupt business man to President. The old money ruling class - families like the Bushes - did not appreciate this. We were in the middle of the Bush Dynasty - Prescott, George Senior, W, then Jeb, and the rising stars. Trump called them out onstage at the debates and put a big wrench into the ruling class machine. Incidentally the Clintons are newcomers to the ruling class which is why they try so hard to be pals with them. Whenever Bill was with 41 he practically started humping his leg. Hillary also has latched onto Lynn de Rothschild. These are corrupt outsiders trying to join the old money class - the one that typically picks our presidents.
    Trump's example more closely resembles JFK's rise to power. The dad builds a financial empire with criminal activities like rum-running and then they try and get the sons a legit gig as President. You saw what happened there. Just watch the movie "The Godfather." So of course Trump has a shady past. He would never have made it out of his lane into this one without a shady past. The reality show helped just as the B-movie career helped Ronald Reagan, but the ruling class of oligarchs in this country still runs the show. And they are extremely pissed off that this uncouth lout has seized their White House. The nerve!


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