Tag: Donald

Donald Trump business taxes threaten the rule of law for all

It is tempting for critics of Donald Trump to react to the New York Times bombshell article by accusing Trump of tax evasion, which is a crime. And it’s equally tempting for his defenders to insist that all he did was use legal avoidance techniques, available to anyone. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle. But the president’s sheer volume of legally dubious tax positions poses an insidious threat to the rule of law.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Donald Trump business taxes threaten the rule of law for all


© Getty Images
Donald Trump business taxes threaten the rule of law for all

The Times was careful to not accuse Trump of tax evasion. Proving criminal tax fraud, the kind that took down Al Capone, is extremely difficult. But respect for the rule of law is more than simply avoiding criminal behavior. It means abiding by our societal responsibilities without trying to game the system.

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The Times documents numerous questionable positions, ranging from (relatively) small amounts to millions of dollars. Some of these are easy to follow and almost laughable, such as the $70,000 for hairstyling during Trump’s “Apprentice” years. The Internal Revenue Service and courts have repeatedly stated that personal grooming expenses are not deductible, even when required by an employer. When a Marine pays a barber for a haircut to comply with military rules, he cannot deduct it.

The president sets an insulting and dangerous example when he does so. He brags that he is “smart” for avoiding taxes. But all he does is take risks that ordinary Americans, who cannot afford aggressive advisers and attorneys who can fight the IRS, can’t expose themselves to. He acts like there are two different tax codes, one for the rich and one for everyone else.

Several other dubious positions jump out. Business owners can deduct litigation expenses related to their business, for instance a trademark dispute, but not the costs of running for office. Trump appears to have done just that, deducting expenses associated with the investigation of Russian contacts during the 2016 campaign.

Video: Glenn Kirschner: Trump’s alleged engineering of a sudden cash windfall in 2016 ‘looks potentially criminal’ (MSNBC)

Glenn Kirschner: Trump’s alleged engineering of a sudden cash windfall in 2016 ‘looks potentially criminal’

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Under Trump’s signature 2017 tax cuts, individuals may only deduct $10,000 in state and local taxes a year, while business owners face no such limits. Since 2014, he has deducted $2.2 million on Seven Springs, a 200-acre country estate, by claiming he owns it solely for investment purposes. Nevertheless, a Trump website describes the estate as a “retreat for the family” and his sons have referred to it as “our compound.”

Suspicion also mars Trump’s deduction of $26 million in consulting fees. In some cases, third parties who worked on his projects cannot recall any outside consultants. In others, the fees appear to have gone to his daughter Ivanka Trump, who double dipped by also taking a salary from the Trump Organization for her work on the projects.

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As Donald Trump’s Law-and-Order Message Fails In Minnesota, Campaign Moves Money to Must-Win Florida

The release on bail of Derek Chauvin, the officer charged in George Floyd’s death, prompted yet another surge of unrest in Minnesota. But even as demonstrations filled the streets for a second night, Donald Trump’s campaign was pulling ad money out of the state. The president’s law-and-order message, which campaign officials had expected to resonate in the protest-torn state, wasn’t working.



a group of people posing for the camera: Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.


© KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.

Trump taking down the fabled “blue wall” of Rust Belt states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—was the most shocking component of his historic upset in 2016. Just as unexpected, to Democrats, pollsters and political pundits, was this: he nearly won Minnesota, falling just 1.5 points behind Hillary Clinton in what was supposed to be the bluest of blue states. Democrats have won in Minnesota every presidential cycle since 1976, the longest streak in the nation.

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The Trump campaign went all in this time around, convinced it could flip the state and give him some electoral breathing room should, say, Wisconsin (which, like Minnesota, has ten electoral votes) flip back to the Democrats. It has 79 paid staffers in the state, Trump staged rallies there three times in the last three months, and campaign surrogates have been in the state repeatedly.

With Trump currently trailing in all the Blue Wall states he won in 2016, the need to carry Minnesota looks more urgent than ever. The problem for Trump: the state appears to be slipping away. According to Real Clear Politics, an aggregation of recent polling done through the month of September shows the president trailing in the state by nine points. And the demographic break downs of those polls—the so-called “internals”— are even more dispiriting for the Trump Team. They show the president underperforming relative to 2016 in his key constituency: white males without college degrees.

The fact that Trump hasn’t drawn closer in Minnesota suggests that a key strategic shift in the Trump campaign in the late summer—its emphasis on ‘law and order” in the wake of urban unrest across the country—has not worked. Late this spring, Minnesota became ground zero for two issues that have since roiled the country: the death of George Floyd at the hands of three police officers fueled outrage nationwide, prompting large demonstrations demanding racial justice and significant change in law enforcement. In many cases, however, the protests turned violent, something the Trump campaign seized on.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3

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“Law and order” became a campaign catchword—a nightly staple on Fox News—and the campaign cut TV ads emphasizing the looting and violence, trying to tie it to Biden and the Democrats. Trump strategists were convinced the chaos in Minneapolis and elsewhere would redound to the president’s benefit, particularly in largely white, middle-class suburbs.

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Donald Trump signs spending bill to keep the government open until Dec. 11

President Trump signed a stopgap spending bill early Thursday morning to keep the government funded through early December.

The president signed the measure after returning to the White House from a campaign rally in Minnesota. The Senate had overwhelmingly approved the spending bill on an 84-10 vote earlier Wednesday.

Funding was set to lapse at midnight with the start of the new fiscal year, but agencies were not expected to be affected by the timing.

The bill delays partisan disputes over spending until after the presidential election.

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