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The Supreme Court may finally unlock Trump's financial record

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  • The Supreme Court may finally unlock Trump's financial record

    We don't know much more about Trump's finances now than we did in 2016. The Supreme Court may change that

    Click image for larger version  Name:	safe_image.php?d=AQCOidcauN2Kh0n2&w=540&h=282&url=https%3A%2F%2Fcdn.cnn.com%2Fcnnnext%2Fdam%2Fassets%2F190919130022-20190918-trump-tax-forms-generic-super-tease.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&fallback=news_d_placeholder_publisher&_nc_hash Views:	0 Size:	51.0 KB ID:	2649455

    (CNN)It's the court decision that probably strikes more fear in President Donald Trump's heart than any other.

    The Supreme Court will decide as soon as this week whether Trump's accountants must turn his financial records and tax returns over to House Democrats and New York prosecutors investigating hush money payments.

    Is he worth as much as he says he is? Where is he getting money from? What are his international business deals? Does he pay taxes at all? Or does he manipulate the tax code, as he's bragged of doing, to get out of it? All of these questions could be answered by viewing the tax returns he's gone to such lengths to keep from public view.The Department of Justice said during oral arguments there should be a different standard for the President than for everyone else. So this will also be a key legal test of Trump's attempt to wrap himself in a bubble of total immunity while in office.

    Note: Trump is the only modern President to hide his tax returns. You can read Joe Biden's here.

    What should the court do?


    CNN legal analyst Elie Honig says the legal issues are pretty clear:

    Legally, this shouldn't be particularly close or difficult. Exhibit A: In total, six different federal courts -- three district courts and three courts of appeals panels -- have heard these cases, and all six have ruled against Trump. It's no fluke that Trump has a batting average of exactly .000 thus far in trying to block disclosure of his tax returns, and it would take a stunning reversal by the Supreme Court -- essentially deciding that all six lower courts got it wrong -- to save Trump's cause now.

    What could the court do?


    Punt -- Don't be surprised if the Supreme Court kicks the issue back to lower courts, allowing another election to pass without voters knowing the financial interests of a candidate and now of the sitting President.

    Draw -- Or, as CNN's legal team wrote after oral arguments, it's possible Chief Justice John Roberts, who has already helped hand Trump two defeats in the past week, could seek some kind of middle ground, although that could make it difficult to actually enforce the subpoenas.

    What do we know about Trump's finances?


    Trump argues that since he files financial disclosure forms each year (and has since 2015), that the public knows plenty about his business. But, as we've reported each year since 2015, the forms are horribly inadequate. You can read my 2019 story on this, but the short version is:
    1. they are based on his own valuations, which are highly suspect;
    2. they aren't subject to any kind of audit;
    3. they're listed in extremely broad ranges.

    Why can't you take Trump's word for his net worth?


    The fact is that Trump lives in two worlds -- man and business.

    It's a dual reality the President and his businesses have constructed that inflates his worth for the public, or his lenders, and then deflates it for the tax man, as the New York Times reported in 2019.

    "During his 50-year career, Trump depended on the fact that the public had little access to information about his wealth and income in order to build the myth of his self-made success," wrote Michael D'Antonio, the Trump biographer and critic, for CNN last year.

    News organizations, including CNN, report on the disclosures because they provide some window into what Trump owns, and they're the best we've got. But both sets of documents together -- the Office of Government Ethics filings and a tax return -- would offer a more complete snapshot of his wealth.

    What is Trump's "income?"


    The documents Trump filed with OGE contain figures that are self-reported -- and have in previous years apparently treated Trump's business revenues as his own personal income.

    The OGE gives filers a lot of leeway on what they can report in the "income" column on the financial disclosure documents. That's because the OGE doesn't focus on the income amount when making a determination on whether there's a conflict of interest -- a dollar of income would present the same amount of conflict as $1 million.
    In 2018, the President claimed $434 million in "income" -- again, the word the form uses -- but while some of that came from interest, book royalties and that SAG pension, the majority of what he listed appears to be revenue associated with the Trump Organization's many business ventures.

    Trump appears to be treating himself more as a business in the documents than as an individual. It's not clear what his own personal stake is in the money he's claiming as income from his golf courses, hotels and other interests. And we don't really know what the listed values represent -- whether Trump reported as "income" what a given business took in as revenue, or if it's the total that actually flowed to him after expenses. We just don't know.

    His actual income is much less clear


    One example worth looking at is the Trump National Doral golf course in Miami, which has been Trump's top moneymaker -- way above his other properties, like his Mar-a-Lago resort.

    Trump claimed on his 2018 disclosure that the property generated income of $75,962,848. His 2017 forms say the course generated $74,755,375. That's about in line with the $75 million total revenue the Trump Organization claimed to Miami-Dade County tax officials in 2017, according to a Washington Post report.

    But the company told Miami authorities that net operating income -- profit, that is -- fell from $13.8 million to $4.3 million, according to the Post. That's a clear indication that what Trump himself took home from Doral -- his personal income -- was much less than the amount he listed as "income" on his OGE form.

    Massive loans and an obsession with interest rates


    Another element of Trump's disclosures is the massive debt he holds. Five loans listed on those 2018 disclosures each exceed $50 million. So that's more than $250 million the President owes three different banks.

    But it could run into the billions. We don't know.

    Jordan Libowitz at the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said that debt should be taken into account when Trump goes off on the Fed about interest rates.

    "He owes a lot of money," said Libowitz when the 2018 forms were released in May 2019. "We don't know exactly how much, but it's a huge amount. And when you own that much, there are questions about how you can be influenced."

    What about the Cabinet?


    While the President and vice president submit disclosure forms, they aren't subject to ethics requirements governing other federal appointees and employees. And two of the wealthiest members of Trump's Cabinet had their initial disclosure forms rejected by OGE in 2019.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was dinged for not disclosing guidance he got from Treasury that he could sell his stake in a film production company to his now-wife.Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had his forms rejected in 2019 because he did not sell stock as he claimed. These errors could technically be referred to the Justice Department for prosecution, but nobody expects that to actually happen.

    Federal law "prohibits Government employees from participating personally and substantially in official matters where they have a financial interest. In addition to their own interests, those of their spouse, minor child, general partner, and certain other persons and organizations are attributed to them," according to the OGE, which certifies them for other executive branch employees, but not for the President.


    https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/21/p...h79jdZO7Hxb1Ng
























  • #2
    Nobody cares.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by HAT View Post
      Nobody who wears one of those silly red hats cares.
      FYP.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by L.A. BRONCOS FAN View Post

        (CNN)It's the court decision that probably strikes more fear in President Donald Trump's heart than any other.
        [/URL]
        Talk about yellow journalism. This is moronic. This has been nothing but a partisan fishing expedition from the get-go.




        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by L.A. BRONCOS FAN View Post

          FYP.
          Only ones that care are like you - the politically desperate looking for any little turd they can throw or spin to invent the controversy of the week.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by nyuKKK

            Only ones that care are like you - the politically desperate looking for any little turd they can throw or spin to invent the controversy of the week.
            Butt hurt because every court in the land has ruled your emperor-god isn't above the law.

            Poor baby.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by nyuKKK

              Talk about yellow journalism. This is moronic. This has been nothing but a partisan fishing expedition from the get-go.
              Yeah, it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Captain Covid is the only president who's ever refused to show his tax returns.

              That's the ticket, genius.

              Comment


              • #8
                It will only further prove he’s a self involved bull**** artist. That’s kind of the default.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by L.A. BRONCOS FAN View Post

                  Yeah, it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that Captain Covid is the only president who's ever refused to show his tax returns.

                  That's the ticket, genius.
                  Who cares? Obama didn't release his college transcripts and you didn't blow chunks from your ass onto the walls about it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nyuKKK

                    Who cares? Obama didn't release his college transcripts and you didn't blow chunks from your ass onto the walls about it.
                    Obama’s college transcripts. tRump’s tax returns.

                    Now there’s an equivalence only a full-fledged tRump fluffer could make.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Several of Trump's tax returns from the early 90s were made public a year or two ago. One of the returns revealed he had lost more money than any other American that year.

                      I never understood why that wasn't a bigger news story.

                      Comment

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