Having been forced out of the presidency, Donald Trump’s post presidential life has not got off to a great start. He had his historic-for-all-the-wrong reasons second impeachment trial; he might be told he can’t live at his Mar-A-Lago estate permanently soon and now he has been ordered by the Supreme Court to hand over his financial information and tax returns to prosecutors in New York. Now, Trump has been fighting any effort to obtain his personal or corporate financial information for years. He refused to disclose his returns during the 2016 campaign, after he was elected and during the 2020 campaign. He is the first president since Richard Nixon not to make that information public. And as a matter of course, it’s not great when you are easily comparable to Richard Nixon for your conduct.
Trump has fought ferociously to block any disclosure of any financial information at all for years, along with many other aspects of his life and career. He tried to buy the silence of women he had allegedly engaged in extra-marital affairs with. He sought to stall, divert, curtail and outright kill Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between individuals connected to Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election. He is reported on a number of occasions to have straight-up ordered the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and anyone else he could think of to shut down the investigation by firing the Special Prosecutor. A New York Times investigation into his financial history turned up some hugely intriguing points. One thing that it quite clearly demonstrated was that the vast majority of Donald Trump’s initial wealth was inherited from his father. This flies in the face of his claim that he is a self-made man. But that is just ridiculous. Not only did he inherit an eye-watering amount of money from his father but he had the frequent backing of his father as an investor. When the New York Times obtained Trump’s tax information from the mid 80’s to mid 90’s, the information showed that while Trump suffered catastrophic losses of nearly a billion dollars. Meanwhile Fred Trump, Donald’s father made a profit of around $50 million over the same period with his only losses coming as a result of him investing in whatever project his son got involved in. The NYT was then able to reveal that Trump had paid a grand total of $1,500 in income tax over a period of about 15 years. Not only that but there were some very dodgy practices going on; not to mention the fact that many of Trump’s hotels and golf courses were losing money hand over fist. And those losses could no longer be offset by the income he had earned from his role on The Apprentice.
And now Trump has been ordered to hand over his tax returns and other financial information to prosecutors. And the reason he has to hand that information over is because it has been ruled to be pertinent to a criminal investigation. And that is critical. During his open testimony to Congress, former personal lawyer and fixer to Donald Trump, Michael Cohen claimed that Trump would inflate and deflate the value of his assets to benefit him. He would inflate them to try and be placed higher on Forbes’ Wealthiest list and deflate them to avoid taxes. There is also potential bank and insurance fraud as well. There is a lot that could well be wrong or just plain illegal about Trump’s finances, particularly his tax returns. Of course, Trump has responded to the Supreme Court ruling in the same way he has reacted to any attempts by prosecutors to get a hold of his financial information. And that is to call the whole system into question, label the decision purely political, refuse to comply and the return of his favourite phrase to describe investigations into him; a witch hunt. It might be worth pointing out though that every other ‘witch hunt’ has turned up evidence of wrong-doing or an extreme comfort with the idea of committing a crime to benefit Trump, his family and his allies.
Something for Donald Trump to keep in mind.