Monday, September 28, 2020

Taxing Times at Russiagate

The New York Times has opened a new front in the war on Donald Trump with only a few weeks before the election, after obtaining what it claims to be his tax returns for the past many years. I say claim, because they won't actually show the documents, likely out of fear that somehow the person(s) who leaked the documents could be identified. There are basically three possible sources. 1) A leak at the IRS, which would be federal crime. The federal bureaucracy has not shied away from felonies in it's pursuit of Trump, as witness the leak of the transcripts of Flynn's conversations with Russian ambassador Kislyak. 2) A leak from a financial institution (eg. tax preparer) in possession of the documents for work reasons, also a crime, and a breach of fiduciary duty, or 3) a deliberate preemptive leak by Trump or part of the Trump organization, to get ahead of something coming. Seeing it's the NYT, this seems unlikely. Anyway, as Althouse  reports "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750."

"He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made. As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.."

The NYT reports, saying that it "has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office."

Also, from NYT, via Althouse. "Ultimately, Mr. Trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life.". In both posts, most of the fun is in the comments.

It's very interesting that the NYT, strongly motivated to find tax crimes and connections to Russia, seems to have only found that Trump might be a faker — not the billionaire business genius he purports to be. But, it seems, the main thing he is doing is putting more money into his businesses than he takes out, and that may be a wise or at least legally authorized way to run his affairs. Now, he's forced to explain that to us, and maybe we will be outraged that the tax laws are currently arranged to allow people to escape taxes, but maybe we will accept instruction that the outrage should be directed at Congress... even at Joe Biden.

Really, it's no secret that both real estate investing, and entertainment, Trump largest areas of endeavor, offer ample opportunities to shield income from taxes, largely due to tax breaks from Congress, passed with Democrats complicity.

I&E, Will Media Ever Ask About Biden’s Corrupt Deals As Vice President?. Not only no, but hell no. Sundance at CTH, New York Times Fails at Outlining President Trump’s Taxes Again…
In the article the Times completely obfuscates the way income taxes are strategically offset by depreciation, mortgage interest and the entire reason why real estate ownership is viewed as a business.

John Carney writing for Breitbart gets it:
[…] So imagine our guy took out an $8 million mortgage at five percent, paying $2 million cash. Now he’s got to pay $400,000 in mortgage payments. He wants to make at least that much so he charges tenants an aggregate of $425,000, which after upkeep comes out to $410,000 of net income. (Remember, if the bank didn’t think he could make more in rent than the mortgage payment, it probably wouldn’t have lent him the money.) The interest payment on the loan–let’s call it $390,000–is deductible from his income, leaving him with $20,000 in net income. He gets to keep that and pay no taxes on it, however, because he still gets to apply the $370,000 depreciation charge. He tells the IRS he lost $350,000.

Under our tax code, ordinary business expenses can be deducted in the year they are incurred. But when a business pays for a long-lasting item expected to produce income–like machinery, vehicles, or an apartment building–it is considered a capital investment. Instead of getting to write-off the cost all at once, the business is required to write it off over the course of decades. After the 1986 tax code, this was set at 27.5 years for residential real estate. (more)
Anyone who has ever operated a business knows that offsetting income is one of the primary reasons to be self-employed. Additionally, the Times completely skips over the tens-of-millions in payroll taxes paid by the Trump organization and tens-of-millions in property and sales taxes paid by all of the various Trump properties.

The National Pulse, NYT’s 10,000-Word Trump Tax ‘Exposé’ Reveals NO Russian Links, NO Illegality, And Admits Left Will Be ‘Unfulfilled’ By The Report  Insty,  NYT EXONERATES TRUMP: Hoping he'll fix the link. Stacy McCain, @RealDonaldTrump: Still #Winning

When your enemies keep breaking the law to attack you, we can conclude that your enemies are bad people:

So getting back to more traditional Russiagate, sadly, (via Sundance), Bartiromo: “Sources Confirm No Interim Durham Report or Indictments Before Election”… video at link. 

What Ms. Bartiromo encapsulates is in-line with my own research and interactions with people very close to the DC events. In essence, this sentiment; in combination with AG Bill Barr having a keen awareness of the undercurrent frustration outside the DC bubble; is at the heart of why USAO Jeff Jensen has been channeling information to Michael Flynn’s defense counsel Sidney Powell.

Breitbart, FNC’s Bartiromo: Durham Report Before Election ‘Unlikely’. 'Shipwreckedcrew' at Red State digs deeper, Why No Durham Activity Before Election — Likely the Interview of Agent William Barnett

Bill Barr and Robert Mueller have been friends for 30+ years, going back to their days together in the Reagan Justice Department.

It is my belief that Bill Barr sees the work of the SCO, and the drafting of the SCO report, as being not the product of the Robert Mueller he has known since the 1980s, but instead, the work of anti-Trump Democrat partisans who Mueller brought to the SCO. As a private citizen — and former Attorney General — he sent a scathing legal memo to Rod Rosenstein in the summer of 2018 challenging the public reports about the nature of a criminal “obstruction” investigation against the Office of the President that was being conducted by the SCO as a surrogate for DOJ. When he was confirmed as Attorney General — and the SCO staff knew they would be reporting to him now and no longer to Rosenstein — the SCO announced in just a matter of a few weeks that the investigation would be shut down.

Were those two events connected? Well, Andrew Weissmann provided the answer to that question yesterday in an excerpt from his book published in a Politico story:
But the limitations of our report were underscored on the night of March 24, 2019, as I stood in the doorway of my apartment in Washington, reading Barr’s four-page letter on my iPad. Just two days after Mueller had handed in our final report—the product of 22 months of intensive work by 59 prosecutors, agents and analysts—Barr issued a letter purporting to summarize our report.

Barr’s letter was a shot across the bow, signaling that the checking function Mueller provided on the actions of the president had come to an abrupt end.
Weissmann “gives away the game” without even realizing the evil in his presumption.

Where in the Special Counsel regulations does it say that such an appointment by the Attorney General is to serve as a “checking function” on the “actions of the President”?

Jerry Dunleavy, WaEx,  'More damning': Lindsey Graham hints at significant declassification related to Russia investigation

Graham offered some insight into what the declassified records might contain. 

"There’s three buckets here," he said of alleged wrongdoing in the Trump-Russia investigation.

The first focuses on whether there was "any legitimate reason" for special counsel Robert Mueller to be investigating the Trump team for a crime regarding Russia. "In 2017, there was no evidence that anybody on the Trump campaign was working with the Russians," Graham said.

The other two areas, according to Graham, relate to how the FBI "lied its a-- off" to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to obtain warrants to wiretap a member of President Trump's 2016 campaign and the case against retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was briefly Trump's first national security adviser.

Jeff Charles at Red State, Sen. Lindsey Graham Drops Another Bomb About FBI Misconduct During Russia Investigation. Insty cites the WSJ editorial 

The FBI’s Bad Intelligence: The bureau relied on a suspected Russian agent for its 2016 wiretaps.

It was worse than we thought. We’re referring to the FBI’s 2016 investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia, as new documents this week reveal.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham on Thursday released newly declassified FBI documents that contain this stunner: The bureau relied on a suspected Russian agent for the information it used to obtain a secret surveillance warrant against former Trump adviser Carter Page.

Four years into accusations about Russia-Trump collusion, we finally learn that Russia’s main conduit for disinformation may have been America’s FBI. Vladimir Putin must be howling with laughter.
While the Democrats and NeverTrumpers were accusing Trump of being Putin’s tool, actually it was the Resistance that was Putin’s tool all along. . . .

The National Pulse has an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: ‘The Russia Lie’ Was A Washington Political Hit On An Outsider

Chuck Ross, Comey Says He Has Not Read Recent Report About Steele Dossier Source, But Will Testify About It Next Week


Laura Italiano, Michael Cohen living large in ‘home confinement’ as he takes a stroll in Central Park. Why it's almost as if authorities aren't taking his crimes very seriously.

Speaking of crimes, at Am Think, Jack Cashill is still talking about Seth Rich: The Murder Washington Doesn't Want Solved. I'm a skeptic, but it really could be that he was the source of the DNC hacks to wikileaks. 

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