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Key Takeaways and Reaction to the NYT Report on Trump’s Tax Returns

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  • A bombshell report from The New York Times detailed 18 years’ worth of information regarding President Donald Trump’s federal income taxes. 
  • In both 2016 and 2017, Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes each year, according to the report. 
  • Among other claims, it also alleges that for 11 of the years between 2000 and 2018, Trump paid no federal income taxes because he reported losing more money than he made at many of his signature businesses.
  • Trump has since dismissed the report as “fake news,” arguing, “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.” 

NYT Releases Data from Trump Tax Returns

The New York Times published a bombshell report on Sunday, which outlines decades of information relating to President Donald Trump’s federal income taxes.

Trump’s tax records have been fiercely sought after for years, dating back to when he refused to release them as a presidential candidate in 2016.

According to The Times, which claims to have obtained Trump’s tax records dating from 2000 to 2018, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016. The next year, his first in office, he paid another $750 in federal taxes.

Even more significantly, in 11 of those 18 years, The Times alleges that Trump paid no federal income taxes at all.

As for how he was able to do that, it was largely because he reported losing much more money than he made at many of his signature businesses.

For example, The Times reported that Trump made $427 million from “The Apprentice,” as well as licensing and endorsements deals associated with his name. Trump then invested much of that money in a collection of businesses, mainly golf courses that steadily became money holes.

In fact, since 2000, Trump has reported losses of more than $315 million at his golf courses, losses of $55 million between 2016 and 2018 at his D.C. hotel, and losses of $134 million at Trump Corporation since 2000.

“The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public,” The Times reports. “His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes.

“Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.”

“Consulting Fees” Paid to Ivanka Trump

The Times reported that the filings showed a laundry list of business expense write-offs, including more than $70,000 paid to style Trump’s hair during “The Apprentice.”

Notably, Trump entities also wrote off at least $95,000 that was paid out to a hair and makeup artist of his daughter, Ivanka Trump. The media outlet added that Mr. Trump wrote off expenses like meals and fuel associated with the aircraft he used “to shuttle him among his various homes and properties.”

Among other claims, between 2010 and 2018, Trump wrote off around $26 million in unexplained “consulting fees” as business expenses.

While The Times notes that there’s no evidence Trump engaged in bribes or kickbacks to middlemen, it also notes that Trump may have reduced the amount of his income that could be taxed by treating a family member as a consultant.

The Times believes that that family member was Ivanka. That’s because in 2017, Ivanka reported receiving nearly $750,000 from a consulting company she co-owned — the exact amount the Trump Organization also claimed as tax deductions for hotel projects in Vancouver and Hawaii.

The big kicker is that Ivanka is also an executive officer of the Trump companies that led those projects — “Meaning she appears to have been treated as a consultant on the same hotel deals that she helped manage as part of her job at her father’s business.” 

The Times added that if the payments to Ivanka were compensation for work, it’s unclear why Trump would do it in this form “other than to reduce his own tax liability.”

The “consulting fees” also raise another possibility: that this could have been a method for Trump to transfer assets to his children while avoiding a gift tax.

There, The Times points back to a 2018 Times investigation which discovered that Trump’s father had “employed a number of legally dubious schemes decades ago to evade gift taxes on millions of dollars he transferred to his children.”

The Times also pointed to a situation where a person directly involved in developing two Trump Towers in Istanbul said that there was never any consultant or other third party in Turkey paid by the Trump Organization. That’s despite The Times’ finding that Trump’s records “show regular deductions for consulting fees over seven years totaling $2 million.”

Trump’s Foreign Investments

The Times reported that they were “able to take the fullest measure to date of the president’s income from overseas, where he holds ultimate sway over American diplomacy.”

The outlet goes on to note that Trump said he wouldn’t pursue new foreign business deals when he took office in 2017, but during his first two years in office, his revenue from abroad was $73 million.

While much of that money was from his golf properties in Scotland and Ireland, some came from licensing deals in countries with authoritarian-leaning leaders or thorny geopolitics — for example, $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million from Turkey,” the outlet reported. 

Notably, The Times explicitly stated that the documents it obtained did not “reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.”

How Much Trump Owes

According to The Times, Trump is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of that due within the next four years.

“Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president,” the outlet reported. 

On top of that, Trump reportedly has $100 million due in 2022 for a mortgage on the commercial space in the New York Trump Tower. Up to 2018, he had only paid interest on the loan but not the loan itself. 

To round it off, confidential records show that starting in 2010, Trump “claimed, and received, an income tax refund totaling $72.9 million.” That’s the sum total of all the federal income tax he had paid for 2005 through 2008, plus interest.

That refund is actually already the subject of a long-standing and widely-known IRS audit, but if Trump is ultimately forced to pay back this refund, he’ll also be forced to return that money with interest and possible penalties. That could ultimately cost him $100 million.

Trump Responds to Bombshell Report

Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told The Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested to see documents in question. 

The Times reported that when they declined his request in order to protect their sources, Garten “took direct issue only with the amount of taxes Mr. Trump had paid.”

“Over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015,” Garten said. 

In response to that statement, The Times noted that Garten seemed to conflate “personal taxes” with other federal taxes Trump paid for his household employees. It added that Garten claimed Trump paid some of what he owed with tax credits, but it argued that was a mischaracterization of how those credits work.

As for Trump himself, in response to a reporter at a press conference, Trump dismissed the report as “fake news.”

“No,” Trump said on Sunday. “Actually, I paid tax. But — and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit. They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well.” 

“But they’re under audit. And when they’re not, I would be proud to show you. But that’s just fake news.” 

When asked if he could give people an idea of how much he was actually paying, he said, “Yeah, basically — well, first of all, I’ve paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes, too. The New York State charges a lot, and I paid a lot of money in state.” 

On Twitter Monday morning, Trump again called the report fake news and added, “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.” 

“Also, if you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.”

He then said he may release those financial statements, which he called “very IMPRESSIVE.”

Critics of the President

Soon after The Times article, Joe Biden’s campaign tweeted an ad that showed how much tax American workers like teachers and firefighters pay compared to the $750 Trump allegedly paid.

It is “the latest reminder how clear the choice is here in this race between Park Avenue and Scranton,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said. “You have in Donald Trump, a President who spends his time thinking about how he can work his way out of paying taxes, of meeting the obligation that every other working person in this country meets every year.”

Many others, including celebrities and politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), echoed that point.

“Trump’s tax returns tell us that he’s either a very bad businessman or a tax cheat—likely both,” Sanders tweeted. “But more importantly, it shows how the wealthy, unlike most Americans, are able to avoid paying taxes.” 

Others also argued that Trump’s debts made him a threat to national security, with a Bloomberg columnist writing in a heavily circulated opinion piece: “Due to his indebtedness, his reliance on income from overseas and his refusal to authentically distance himself from his hodgepodge of business, Trump represents a profound national security threat – a threat that will only escalate if he’s re-elected.” 

Defense of the President

Others, particularly supporters of the president, condemned The Times for reporting the story, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).

“Well, I don’t know how accurate the story is. The New York Times didn’t release any of the underlying documents,” the senator said in an interview with The View.

“Apparently somebody illegally gave them a copy of something, some tax return documents. I don’t think it’s an issue that frankly impacts a whole lot of Americans.”

“But the point is I don’t know if it’s accurate or not. I don’t think it’s an issue that frankly impacts a whole lot of Americans.” 

Conservative commentator Candace Owens also reiterated that point on Twitter.

“It’s time for our Department of Justice to begin looking into the New York Times,” she wrote.  “I don’t care what you think of Trump— if government officials are turning over an individual’s federal documents in an effort to sway an election—it is a federal crime of epic proportions.”

Others claim the story was intentionally dropped two days before the first debate between Trump and Biden, which is set for Tuesday.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (Axios) (Associated Press)

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Jan. 6 Committee Prepares Criminal Charges Against Steve Bannon for Ignoring Subpoena

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The move comes after former President Trump told several of his previous aides not to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into the insurrection.


Bannon Refuses to Comply With Subpoena

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection announced Thursday that it is seeking to hold former White House advisor Steve Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

The decision marks a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to force officials under former President Donald Trump’s administration to comply with its probe amid Trump’s growing efforts to obstruct the inquiry.

In recent weeks, the former president has launched a number of attempts to block the panel from getting key documents, testimonies, and other evidence requested by the committee that he claims are protected by executive privilege.

Notably, some of those assertions have been shut down. On Friday, President Joe Biden rejected Trump’s effort to withhold documents relating to the insurrection.

Still, Trump has also directed former officials in his administration not to comply with subpoenas or cooperate with the committee. 

That demand came after the panel issued subpoenas ordering depositions from Bannon and three other former officials: Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino, and Pentagon Chief of Staff Kash Patel.

After Trump issued his demand, Bannon’s lawyer announced that he would not obey the subpoena until the panel reached an agreement with Trump or a court ruled on the executive privilege matter.

Many legal experts have questioned whether Bannon, who left the White House in 2017, can claim executive privilege for something that happened when he was not working for the executive.

Panel Intensifies Compliance Efforts

The Thursday decision from the committee is significant because it will likely set up a legal battle and test how much authority the committee can and will exercise in requiring compliance.

It also sets an important precedent for those who have been subpoenaed. While Bannon is the first former official to openly defy the committee, there have been reports that others plan to do the same. 

The panel previously said Patel and Meadows were “engaging” with investigators, but on Thursday, several outlets reported that the two — who were supposed to appear before the body on Thursday and Friday respectively —  are now expected to be given an extension or continuance.

Sources told reporters that Scavino, who was also asked to testify Friday, has had his deposition postponed because service of his subpoena was delayed.

As far as what happens next for Bannon, the committee will vote to adopt the contempt report next week. Once that is complete, the matter will go before the House for a full vote.  

Assuming the Democratic-held House approves the contempt charge, it will then get referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia to bring the matter before a grand jury.

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Washington Post) (Bloomberg)

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Senate Votes To Extend Debt Ceiling Until December

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The move adds another deadline to Dec. 3, which is also when the federal government is set to shut down unless Congress approves new spending.


Debt Ceiling Raised Temporarily

The Senate voted on Thursday to extend the debt ceiling until December, temporarily averting a fiscal catastrophe.

The move, which followed weeks of stalemate due to Republican objections, came after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) partially backed down from his blockade and offered a short-term proposal.

After much whipping of votes, 11 Republicans joined Democrats to break the legislative filibuster and move to final approval of the measure. The bill ultimately passed in a vote of 50-48 without any Republican support.

The legislation will now head to the House, where Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members would be called back from their current recess for a vote on Tuesday. 

The White House said President Joe Biden would sign the measure, but urged Congress to pass a longer extension.

“We cannot allow partisan politics to hold our economy hostage, and we can’t allow the routine process of paying our bills to turn into a confidence-shaking political showdown every two years or every two months,’’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Under the current bill, the nation’s borrowing limit will be increased by $480 billion, which the Treasury Department said will cover federal borrowing until around Dec. 3.

The agency had previously warned that it would run out of money by Oct. 18 if Congress failed to act. Such a move would have a chilling impact on the economy, forcing the U.S. to default on its debts and potentially plunging the country into a recession. 

Major Hurdles Remain

While the legislation extending the ceiling will certainly offer temporary relief, it sets up another perilous deadline for the first Friday in December, when government funding is also set to expire if Congress does not approve another spending bill.

Regardless of the new deadline, many of the same hurdles lawmakers faced the first time around remain. 

Democrats are still struggling to hammer out the final details of Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending agenda, which Republicans have strongly opposed.

Notably, Democratic leaders previously said they could pass the bill through budget reconciliation, which would allow them to approve the measure with 50 votes and no Republican support.

Such a move would require all 50 Senators, but intraparty disputes remain over objections brought by Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Az.), who have been stalling the process for months.

Although disagreements over reconciliation are ongoing among Democrats, McConnell has insisted the party use the obscure procedural process to raise the debt limit. Democrats, however, have balked at the idea, arguing that tying the debt ceiling to reconciliation would set a dangerous precedent.

Despite Republican efforts to connect the limit to Biden’s economic agenda, raising the ceiling is not the same as adopting new spending. Rather, the limit is increased to pay off spending that has already been authorized by previous sessions of Congress and past administrations.

In fact, much of the current debt stems from policies passed by Republicans during the Trump administration, including the 2017 tax overhaul. 

As a result, while Democrats have signaled they may make concessions to Manchin and Sinema, they strongly believe that Republicans must join them to increase the debt ceiling to fund projects their party supported. 

It is currently unclear when or how the ongoing stalemate will be resolved, or how either party will overcome their fervent objections.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)

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California Makes Universal Voting by Mail Permanent

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California is now the eighth state to make universal mail-in ballots permanent after it temporarily adopted the policy for elections held amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 


CA Approves Universal Voting by Mail

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill Monday requiring every registered voter in the state to be mailed a ballot at least 29 days before an election, whether they request it or not.

Assembly Bill 37 makes permanent a practice that was temporarily adopted for elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law, which officially takes effect in January, also extends the time mail ballots have to arrive at elections offices from three days to seven days after an election. Voters can still choose to cast their vote in person if they prefer.

Supporters of the policy have cheered the move, arguing that proactively sending ballots to registered voters increases turnout.

“Data shows that sending everyone a ballot in the mail provides voters access. And when voters get ballots in the mail, they vote,” the bill’s author, Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto), said during a Senate committee hearing in July.

Meanwhile opponents — mostly Republicans — have long cast doubts about the safety of mail-in voting, despite a lack of evidence to support their claims that it leads to widespread voter fraud. That strategy, however, has also faced notable pushback from some that a lot of Republicans who say it can actually hurt GOP turnout.

Others May Follow

The new legislation probably isn’t too surprising for California, where over 50% of votes cast in general elections have been through mail ballots since 2012, according to The Sacramento Bee. Now, many believe California will be followed by similar legislation from Democrats across the country as more Republican leaders move forward with elections bills that significantly limit voting access.

Newsome signed 10 other measures Monday changing election and campaign procedures, including a bill that would require anyone advocating for or against a candidate to stand farther away from a polling place. Another bill increases penalties for candidates who use campaign funds for personal expenses while a third measure increases reporting requirements for limited liability corporations that engage in campaign activity.

“As states across our country continue to enact undemocratic voter suppression laws, California is increasing voter access, expanding voting options and bolstering elections integrity and transparency,” Newsom said in a statement.

“Last year we took unprecedented steps to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot during the pandemic and today we are making those measures permanent after record-breaking participation in the 2020 presidential election.”

The news regarding California came just in time for National Voter Registration day today, giving Americans another reminder to make sure they’re registered in their states. For more information on how to register, visit Vote.gov or any of the other resources linked below.

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Los Angeles Times) (The Sacramento Bee)

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