The final week of campaign 2016 will undoubtedly set new records for broadcasting political ads, which may or may not have much influence. Late-breaking news, however, may actually have more influence on voter turnout.
Comey’s October nothingburger dominated the first days of the closing week. But now the scandal-hungry media is looking elsewhere for stories to capture the attention of growing numbers of Americans who are bored by the mere mention of the word “emails,” and new revelations about Trump’s lies, sleazy business ethics and corruption give them plenty of fodder. As Michael Tomasky writes at The Daily Beast, “what happened Monday was that Trump was hit with three big stories”:
1. CNBC reported—based on one source, it must be said—that earlier in October, Comey had argued privately that it was too close to the election for the U.S. government to name Russia as the hacker of Democratic emails. That disclosure was made by the government, just without the FBI’s name on it. Obviously, it was a disclosure that caused some discomfort for the Trump campaign, tied as the candidate is to Russia. The obvious question, if this story is accurate: Why was Oct. 7 too close to the election for the FBI to help create a news story that might have been bad for Trump, while Oct.28 was not too close to the election for the FBI to single-handedly create a news story that was bad for Clinton? Inquiring minds want to know.
2. NBC News reported the FBI has launched a preliminary investigation into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s ties to Russia. Manafort, of course, is not the candidate and is no longer affiliated with the campaign. So this isn’t necessarily an A-1 bombshell. But the existence of NBC News’s “law-enforcement and intelligence sources” who wanted to put this out screams to us that there’s a civil war brewing in federal law-enforcement circles and that for every pro-Trump leak, we can expect some countervailing pushback.
3. And finally, breaking just after 9 p.m. Monday night, the big one: The New York Times detailing how Trump used a questionable tax-dodge technique to “avoid reporting hundreds of millions of dollars” in what was supposed to be taxable income. This is a complicated one, but, according to the Times, as far as the IRS is concerned, a dollar of canceled debt is the same as a dollar of taxable income; tax must be paid on the canceled debt. But Trump used a maneuver that allowed him to avoid paying federal tax on the canceled debt—he avoided paying as much as $50 million a year for 18 years, the paper said. And it was a maneuver that his own attorneys said was dodgy. The article quotes numerous tax experts as saying that what Trump did here was outrageous.
As Tomasky concludes, summing up Trump’s legacy, “his entire adult life has been spent cheating everyone who had the misfortune to cross his path.”
Add to these three stories new revelations, such as Trump being caught on tape lying about his votes for President Bush. From Andrew Kaczynski’s CNN post, “Trump said in 2005 that he voted for George W. Bush. In 2009, he claimed he never did“:
In a 2009 radio interview with Don Imus uncovered by CNN’s KFile, Donald Trump claimed he did not vote for President George W. Bush. Four years earlier, in an interview on Fox News following the 2004 presidential election, Trump said the exact opposite: that he did vote Bush despite his opposition to the Iraq War.
As recently as January of this year, Trump said he voted for Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections…Speaking with Imus in February 2009, Trump said, “You know how I feel about Bush, and I think you got to feel that way, also.”“I never voted for him,” responded Imus. “I never voted for him, Donald.”…”You’re good, then. I didn’t either, by the way,” Trump said, “You’re good. I just thought that guy was a dimwit. You looked at it, and he just didn’t look like he was all there…You look at his eyes, I mean he’d make a speech and you’d look at him and you’d say, ‘Does he even know what he’s reading?’ This guy, he was a horrible president,” said Trump.Trump’s answer on Imus is a direct contradiction to what he told Bill O’Reilly in January 2005, the day before then-president Bush was to be inaugurated for his second term…”All right. You didn’t vote for Bush, did you?,” O’Reilly asked Trump.“Actually, I did,” said Trump…I voted for Bush because I think he’s got certain things that are excellent, including a tax policy that’s excellent and going to prove to be excellent,” Trump said. “But I am not a big fan of the war in Iraq, and I’ve let a lot of people know about it, and perhaps that’s being proven to be correct.”
In a January 2016 interview, also with O’Reilly, Trump was asked if he voted for Bush twice.“I did vote for Bush twice, yes,” Trump said. “I don’t think he did a particularly good job. I think he got us into Iraq which was a disaster. But I voted for Bush, yes.”