The New York Times has published a massive investigative report into the Trump crime family finances. In the process, the Times has burst the myth purveyed by Donald Trump for years that he is a self-made man. He was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. The Trump empire is built upon a foundation of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering through real estate. Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father (excerpt):
The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.
President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help.
But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day.
Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.
These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show.
The Times’s findings raise new questions about Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. According to tax experts, it is unlikely that Mr. Trump would be vulnerable to criminal prosecution for helping his parents evade taxes, because the acts happened too long ago and are past the statute of limitations. There is no time limit, however, on civil fines for tax fraud.
The findings are based on interviews with Fred Trump’s former employees and advisers and more than 100,000 pages of documents describing the inner workings and immense profitability of his empire. They include documents culled from public sources — mortgages and deeds, probate records, financial disclosure reports, regulatory records and civil court files.
The investigation also draws on tens of thousands of pages of confidential records — bank statements, financial audits, accounting ledgers, cash disbursement reports, invoices and canceled checks. Most notably, the documents include more than 200 tax returns from Fred Trump, his companies and various Trump partnerships and trusts. While the records do not include the president’s personal tax returns and reveal little about his recent business dealings at home and abroad, dozens of corporate, partnership and trust tax returns offer the first public accounting of the income he received for decades from various family enterprises.
What emerges from this body of evidence is a financial biography of the 45th president fundamentally at odds with the story Mr. Trump has sold in his books, his TV shows and his political life.
The Times’s investigation of the Trump family’s finances is unprecedented in scope and precision, offering the first comprehensive look at the inherited fortune and tax dodges that guaranteed Donald J. Trump a gilded life. The reporting makes clear that in every era of Mr. Trump’s life, his finances were deeply intertwined with, and dependent on, his father’s wealth.
The Times then goes into great detail from the thousands of documents in its possession. It is a roadmap for New York state tax authorities to pursue civil fines against the Trump crime family. New York state tax department reviewing fraud allegations involving Trump in NYT article:
“The Tax Department is reviewing the allegations in the NYT article and is vigorously pursuing all appropriate avenues of investigation,” a spokesman from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance said in an email to CNBC.
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Meanwhile, the state tax department already is investigating the president’s charity, the Trump Foundation. The president’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has also been caught up in the tax department probe as he was subpoenaed by investigators in August,.
The probe came on the heels of a lawsuit by New York state Attorney General Barbara Underwood against the foundation, as well as Trump himself, claiming that he broke state and federal law by mismanaging the charity.
And then there is this under-reported story from last week. Congressional Democrats’ lawsuit alleging Trump’s private business is violating the Constitution can proceed, federal judge rules:
A federal judge on Friday gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit filed by 200 congressional Democrats against President Trump alleging that Trump has violated the Constitution by doing business with foreign governments while in office.
The lawsuit is based on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars presidents from taking payments from foreign states without Congress’s consent. Trump’s business, which he still owns, has hosted foreign embassy events and visiting foreign officials at its downtown D.C. hotel.
Trump has not given Congress any details of these transactions, nor has he asked Congress’s permission for them. Trump says he doesn’t need to — by his reckoning, these transactions don’t fit the Founding Fathers’ definition of “emoluments.” They are business deals, he says, not payoffs.
In his ruling, Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan agreed with the legislators, writing that they have legal standing to sue and their case can proceed.
“The Clause requires the President to ask Congress before accepting a prohibited foreign emolument,” Sullivan wrote. If the allegations made by Democrats are true, he wrote, then “the President is accepting prohibited foreign emoluments without asking and without receiving a favorable reply from Congress.”
Typically, judges are skeptical when individual legislators seek to sue the president. In this case, Sullivan allowed it, writing that the lawmakers had nowhere else to turn for a remedy other than the courts.
The decision opens another legal front for the president, who is facing an array of inquiries into his business, his campaign and his charity.
Trump is facing a separate emoluments suit filed by the attorneys general of Washington, D.C., and Maryland that is moving forward. He also is contending with the ongoing special counsel investigation into Russian interference, a lawsuit from the New York Attorney General that alleges“persistently illegal conduct” at Trump’s charitable foundation and a defamation lawsuit brought by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos.
Friday’s ruling is just the beginning of the Democrats’ lawsuit.
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This is the latest case in which the president and his company may now be exposed to a lengthy legal process and possible discovery by plaintiffs who oppose him politically, a process that could include depositions of witnesses and the disclosure of Trump Organization financial documents.
In the other emoluments suit, the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia contend President Trump’s financial interests — particularly his D.C. hotel — allow him to unfairly profit. Justice Department lawyers in that case say the president is not breaking the law when foreign officials book rooms at his hotel in the capital because he is not trading favors in exchange for a benefit.
Discovery in this case will allow Democrats to obtain President Trump’s personal tax returns and his recent business dealings at home and abroad. He will not be able to hide behind the mythical tax “audit” any longer.
And let’s not forget that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators almost certainly have already reviewed President Trump’s personal tax returns and of the Trump foundation. Laundering all that Russian oligarch money through Trump real estate holdings is going to be yet another shoe to drop.
As the New York Times editorializes, “Now let’s see your tax returns, Mr. President.” Donald Trump and the Self-Made Sham:
Seeing as how [the Trump] empire and his role in building it are so central to who Mr. Trump claims to be — the defining feature of his heroic narrative — the American public has a right to some answers. For starters, now would be an excellent time for Mr. Trump to hand over those tax returns on which he has thus far kept a death grip.
The day of reckoning is soon coming for the Trump crime family, and none too soon.