Monday, October 8, 2018

What did Donald Trump do today?

He claimed he'd been totally transparent about his taxes.

With Brett Kavanaugh fading somewhat from the headlines, Trump was asked again about last week's epic New York Times report on decades of Trump family tax evasion. The normally understated paper called it an "outright fraud" that amounted to more than half a billion dollars in tax-free gifts from Fred Trump to his children. Trump, who threatens libel at the drop of a hat, was notably muted in his response. (A summary of the major findings of the 14,000-word report is here.)

Today, asked about the story again, Trump insisted that his family's finances were "very well documented. Very well documented. Yeah, it’s been documented for many years very well — all public documents."

In reality, most of the roughly 100,000 documents that the NYT reporters relied on to write their report were not public, and appear to have been obtained from sources within the Trump camp. This secrecy makes sense from the standpoint of self-preservation, since the actions they describe point to a massive and multi-faceted attempt to illegally evade gift and estate taxes.

Trump is also the only president or presidential candidate since President Nixon to refuse to release his personal tax returns.

Why does this matter?

  • Past a certain point, a lie can be so obvious that it becomes an insult.
  • It shouldn't be possible to credibly accuse the person in charge of enforcing tax laws with taking part in a conspiracy to commit $550,000,000 worth of tax evasion.