As the Democrats debate the merits and pitfalls of impeaching Trump as soon as possible, it’s helpful to review the importance of securing as much information as possible about his taxes. The following exchange comes from Jon Weiner’s interview of David Cay Johnston, the top investigator of Trump’s finances., “What Is Trump Hiding in His Tax Returns? The Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter explains what’s likely in Trump’s returns” at The Nation.
“JW: The really interesting question is, what do you think is in Trump’s tax returns? Why do you think he’s trying so hard to keep them secret?
DCJ: There are at least three reasons here. Number one, Trump’s tax returns will show that he is not anywhere near as wealthy as he claimed. Remember during the campaign he kept saying he was worth more than $10 billion. But after he became president, he signed under oath his financial disclosure statement, and 90 percent of his wealth vanished. Even that statement, which I’ve analyzed, overstates his wealth. There’s never been a scintilla of verifiable evidence that Trump is a billionaire. And I’m the guy who revealed, back in 1990 when he said he was worth $3 billion, that he wasn’t a billionaire. We eventually found that he had negative net worth of about $295 million—minus $295 million.
Secondly, Donald Trump is a tax cheat. He had two civil trials for income tax fraud, one by the State of New York and the other by the City of New York. In both cases he lost. In one of those trials, his own long-time tax attorney and accountant, Jack Mitnick, testified against him. Mitnick was shown the filed tax return, which was a photocopy, and testified, “That’s my signature on the return, but neither I nor my firm prepared that tax return.” That’s as good a badge of fraud as you’re ever going to find. It indicates that Donald Trump took the tax return that was prepared, changed it, and then with a photocopy machine put the signature of Jack Mitnick on it. Donald Trump is also a confessed sales tax cheat. Mayor Ed Koch of New York said he should have served 15 days in jail for his crime. Trump has a long history of hiding records from auditors, cheating governments, using two sets of numbers. So his tax returns are highly likely to show tax cheating.
Finally, the returns may well establish how much money he has been getting from Russians, Saudis, people from the Emirates, and elsewhere. They may show whether he has been engaged in money laundering for these people through real estate transactions and other actions that make no business sense, but, when closely examined, show exactly what we see when there’s money laundering. I think the record is pretty clear that he has been doing that.”
Meanwhile, Washington state, New Jersey and Illinois have advanced state laws requiring President Trump to release his tax records to get on their state ballots. Dems should encourage other states to do likewise.