Well, Donald Trump is in (more) trouble.
This is one of those rare instances when it’s simply not possible for other news outlets to add anything of substance because the original reporting is simply far too good to trump (get it?).
Suffice to say The New York Times dropped a bombshell of epic proportions on Tuesday. The piece, an extraordinary feat of investigative journalism, casts doubt on the narrative Trump has employed to build his reputation as a self-made billionaire and implicates the President in a variety of schemes, some of which are probably illegal.
To let Trump tell it, his father loaned him a mere $1 million which he then parlayed into a global real estate empire, but the Times’ piece blows that contention out of the water – and then some.
The gist of the report is captured in the opening paragraphs as follows:
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.
Again, you have to read the whole thing to truly appreciate the gravity of what’s alleged, but what’s clear just from those brief excerpts is that New York tax authorities are obligated to investigate the allegations and that’s just what they’re going to do.
Read the full piece
“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 Tuesday.
If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to suggest that the “failing” New York Times didn’t do their homework here, the answer is “no”. The article linked above is based on (and I kid you not), 100,000 pages of public documents, “tens of thousands” of pages of confidential records, as well as interviews with Fred Trump’s former employees.
On Tuesday evening, the White House called the story “misleading” and appears to be leaning heavily on the IRS having signed off on Trump’s deals “decades ago”. That’s a bit more defensive than one might expect given the magnitude of the story.
The timing here is particularly bad, coming as it does amid the state’s investigation into the Trump Foundation and the questions swirling around the Trump Organization following Michael Cohen’s plea and the immunity deal granted to longtime Trump moneyman Allen Weisselberg.
A lawyer for Trump is (basically) threatening to sue for defamation. You can read the full statement from him below.
Statement to The Times from Charles J. Harder, a lawyer for President Trump
The New York Times’ allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100% false, and highly defamatory. There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate. All estate matters were handled by licensed attorneys, licensed CPAs and licensed real estate appraisers who followed all laws and rules strictly. All matters were filed with the IRS and New York taxing authorities. The returns and tax positions that the Times now attacks were examined in real time by the relevant taxing authorities. The taxing authorities requested a few minor adjustments, which were made, and then fully approved all of the tax filings. These matters have now been closed for more than a decade.
President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters. The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law. Should the Times state or imply that President Trump participated in fraud, tax evasion, or any other crime, it will be exposing itself to substantial liability and damages for defamation.