Nel's New Day

January 2, 2023

Politics in 2023

Ukraine started 2023 by shooting down 45 Iranian-made Sahed drones fired by Russia and attacked the occupied Donetsk region, hitting a building in Makiivka where Russian ammunition was stored. Foreign conflicts will form challenges as autocrats try to destroy democracies: China’s military drills around Taiwan, Iran’s support of Russia, North Korea’s missiles, the Taliban’s draconian rule in Afghanistan, gang takeover in Haiti, and ISIS franchises spreading throughout Africa. About half the world’s democracies are in decline, and societies growing polarized don’t trust elections.

While the U.S. worries about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin using nuclear weapons, his invasion strengthened NATO, an alliance of 30 nations. In Iran, young women, even teenagers, have mobilized protests for a 22-year-old woman dead because she didn’t cover her hair, the biggest challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is old and sick.

In the U.S. the GOP, with a weak majority of five in the House but still not controlling the Senate, is highly polarized between the different factions from the ultra-conservative QAnon believers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to the bipartisan group with Democrats. The leadership’s agenda, as displayed by the GOP majority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) pretends to help “hardworking families” but only blocks abortion, release of gas from emergency reserves, and immigration. Their obsessions focus on Hunter Biden’s laptop, a replace for Hillary Clinton’s emails which went nowhere, and impeaching any Democrats who offended any Republicans.  

In wooing voters for the Speaker, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has made more promises such as removing metal checks to enter the chamber, allowing guns to be smuggled inside, and create select committees on a wide number of subjects from the source of Covid to “the Weaponization of the Federal Government.” Covid topics also include “the impact of school closures on American children” and the development of vaccines and corresponding federal mandates. House Republicans want to remove the IRS of additional sources provided by Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, providing safety for the wealthy to not be audited for tax fraud. Other goals are legislation to zero out a government official’s salary, cut specific government programs, and fire specific federal employees.

On Day One, the Republicans plan to remove the right for congressional staffers to unionize. New House leaders have ignored the Congressional Accountability Act requiring legislation to remove implemented rights. Another GOP aim is to gut the independent, nonpartisan House ethics office established 15 years ago to review misconduct allegations against chamber members and their staffers. Representatives benefitting from this action include McCarthy, Jim Jordan (OH), Andy Biggs (AZ), and Scott Perry (TX) who ignored subpoenas from the House January 6 investigative committee.

Newly-elected New York representative George Santos, who already expanded the party’s scandals, could benefit most from the loss of the ethics committee. Within the past weeks, Santos’ news leaking daily shows that almost everything he ran on was a lie—his schooling, work history, religion, mother’s death, etc. Brazilian authorities may charge him for using a stolen checkbook and false name to make purchases in the country, and the sources of his finances are being investigated. Santos also faces investigations from federal prosecutors in New York, New York’s AG’s office, the Nassau County DA’s office, and the Queens DA office. Several Santos’ campaign disbursements were for $199.99, a penny under the requirement for receipts.

Santos’ problems might have been kept under wraps if the current time had distracting news, as happened before the election. Now, the media wants to know how his income changed from $55,000 in 2020 to $1 million to $5 million in 2022 as reported by his campaign filings. Another mystery is where he got the $700,000 he lent his campaign. His almost $100,000 expenditures for campaigning in his urban district of 254.8 square miles also raised questions. Even Santos’ ex-boyfriend said that the elected representative is lying and that the boyfriend had to pay Santos’ bills. Santos never went to work, according to the boyfriend.

GOP House members are staying silent because Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) badly needs Santos’ vote for his losing campaign to become Speaker of the House. (The election is on January 3, and the House cannot operate until a Speaker is elected.) Santos also represents a swing district in a blue state where a reelection could change the Republicans’ majority to four in the House. The Republicans say that Santos deserves a “second chance.” This philosophy means that the GOP will support any potentially criminal or morally decrepit representative to retain control.

More polarity between GOP factions came from anger at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for supporting the $1.7 trillion spending package instead of closing down the government or blocking a vote on the budget until 2023. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) blames McConnell for the GOP failure in the 2022 midterms because of McConnell’s “terrible” record. Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) also condemns McCarthy to avoid accepting blame for the poor quality of candidates DDT selected.

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel may not be back for a fourth term after the failures of the past three electoral terms. Election conspiracy theorist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell wants the job and said he is calling all 168 RNC committee members. He said he is investigating how Ron DeSantis won Dade County in Florida “because it’s a deviation.” Lindell said. He blames all the problems on the voting machines. “They gotta go,” he said.

Issues for 2023:

Selection and Retention of House Speaker: This is a huge problem with the slim majority of five Republicans. More later.

Control of the House GOP, Extremes or Moderates: The far-right Freedom Caucus has 30-40 members; moderate Republican Governance Group, over 40 members; and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, about 100 members. The remaining 100+ members are in the more moderate New Democrat Coalition and “centrist” leaning right Blue Dog Coalition, and dozens are in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus with equal numbers from each political party.

Raising the Debt Limit: After increasing the debt limit over 100 times, the House conservatives are threatening to refuse this year to blame the Democrats’ spending, despite the $7.8 trillion that DDT added to the debt. Some Republicans want to reduce “entitlement” (Social Security and Medicare funding among others) in exchange for the debt ceiling increase.

Accomplishments in Divided Government: Must pass legislation—the coming year’s annual appropriations, defense authorization, Farm Bill, and Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization—will get through, hopefully without a government shutdown. A fix to a possible recession could be addition to the Child Tax Credit in exchange for business tax breaks giving companies more tax breaks.

A Shift of Leadership at the Federal Reserve: Not likely. Jerome Powell is determined to drop inflation to two percent although some believe he’s using the wrong process to do it.

Biden’s Run for Reelection: His second-year successes, including the lack of Republicans elected during the 2022 midterms for both state and national offices, may calm Democrats. No one hates Biden except for rabid Republicans who hate all Democrats, unlike the response to DDT, another potential president candidate in 2024. Even if DDT loses the primary, he’s still regarded as the GOP leader.

Ron DeSantis’ Run for Election: Every vile action the Florida governor has taken as pointed toward a DDT-esque push toward candidacy and desire to lead the MAGAs. DDT has threatened to leave the GOP if it doesn’t choose him for the presidential candidate.

DDT’s Possible Indictment: If the DOJ’s investigator, Jack Smith, comes through as special counsel probing DDT’s part in theft of classified documents and the January 6 insurrection, a prosecution may throw the 2024 elections in extreme flux. Most congressional Republicans have publicly defended DDT, creating problems for non-DDT candidates and disturbing the possibility of moderate Republicans to run for congressional positions. This led to a GOP majority of only five House members after the 2022 elections instead of the customary practice of the president’s opposing party adding tens of additional members from midterms. DDT also faces a criminal investigation in Georgia which could present the biggest charges after he tried to overturn the state’s election in 2020.

Judicial Response to Biden’s Administrative Agenda: The power of businesses and the number of DDT/GOP judges may block control on tech mergers and acquisitions, surveillance and data security, and classification of workers as employees instead of independent contractors.

The U.S.-China Relationship: Republicans will focus on China more than Ukraine with their desire to opposed authoritarianism in other countries, especially China. Biden has already started export controls of advanced computing chips and semiconductors, and both parties want him to expand the export control list as well as screening China’s outbound investments, preventing China from access to U.S. user data from TikTok, and changing DDT’s tariffs on China. The less conservative goal is commercial ties with China in industries not posing concerns to national security.

After the GOP turned two governors over to the Democrats in 2022, three Southern states will elect governors in 2023: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Two are Democrats, and Mississippi’s Tate Reeves is a Republican. That party is a shoe-in for Mississippi’s governor. Louisiana’s John Bel Edwards is term-limited, and Republicans are lining up to take the position. Andy Beshear (Kentucky), who has high support, will likely run again.

Public knowledge of DDT’s tax returns may increase his liability, especially after he has shown himself to not be successful in business endeavors despite his claims to the contrary. The documents show his heavy losses except for his inherited assets and his fraudulent endeavors. He paid little in taxes, didn’t donate his salary in 2020 as he promised, and brought in $78 million of revenue from 16 foreign countries including $6.5 million from China. DDT paid more in foreign taxes than in the U.S. but told moderator Chris Wallace during the first 2020 presidential campaign that he paid millions of dollars during his first term. (The exchange is here.) With only one person beginning an audit of DDT’s taxes in 2019, violating the U.S. mandate that a president’s taxes be audited every year, his returns show the inequity of the U.S. tax code.   

And the direction of the Supreme Court may create chaos. But that’s a very long story. Meanwhile, there is room for optimism in 2023 unless the Republicans climb out of chaos, which is unlikely because they are so full of hate that they could destroy themselves.

December 24, 2022

More Trouble for DDT in December

The public can see Deposed Donald Trump’s (DDT) personal tax returns for 2015 to 2020 and business returns for eight years after a vote by the House Ways and Means Committee. All elected presidents since Richard Nixon have voluntarily made public their income taxes, but House members had to struggle in court for several years to obtain those of DDT. The returns will be redacted to protect business people with whom he dealt.

One startling committee revelation is that the required presidential audit of DDT’s taxes failed to occur for two years while he was in office. The first audit was started only after the House members insisted on seeing the returns, but only one person was assigned to the job. The audit was never completed. DDT talked about investigating his enemies with the IRS, and former FBI director James B. Comey and Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe, who DDT considered enemies, suffered invasive audits.  

The committee also obtained administrative files and paperwork which could include IRS officials’ notes or audits of DDT’s returns to determine the extent of IRS scrutiny and whether it would change after he was elected in 2016. The taxes may ascertain whether DDT had any entanglements impacting his decisions while he was in office. About 1,100 electronic files of these documents show the agency failed aggressive examination of a difficult wealthy taxpayer with complex returns.  

In 2020 and 2017, DDT declared no income; 2019 showed $3 million and 2018, $23 million, provided by an inheritance from his father, Fred Trump. That income came from over $14 million in gains from the sale of his father’s 1970s investment in the Brooklyn housing development of Starrett City.  DDT’s major tax accounting tricks were sheltering his income by declaring losses. In the six years between 2015 and 2020, the self-proclaimed wealthy man paid under $2.5 million in taxes, which includes the $1 million he paid on taxable income of $23 million, a four-percent tax rate

The bipartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation found dozens of red flags requiring more investigation. In transactions with his children, DDT received tens of thousands of dollars annually in interest income from three of his grown children—Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—described as personal loans to them which could have been “disguised gifts” to evade gift taxes that his children could write off as interest payments to their father. DDT’s may have received insurance proceeds to settle fraud claims against the Trump University, but he deducted $21 million he paid. He also charged personal expenses as business expenses. Other flags were the $26 million in nine years that he wrote off to unidentified consultants. In 2015 DDT declared $76 million loss in his “other income” category helping him end up $30 million in the hole. DDT’s tax returns were filed jointly with his wife, Melania, creating the possibility that she could also be sued for tax fraud.

Ways and Means Committee member Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said:

“Trump claimed tens of millions of dollars in losses and credits without the type of substantiation an ordinary taxpayer would likely provide.”

The report reveals that DDT lost money on real estate ventures and other businesses with actual income from interest on his investments. Many people said they voted for DDT in 2016 because he was such a good businessman: his tax returns show what a failure he is.

After selling out and doubling in price on the second day of sales, DDT’s SUPERHERO NFT’s have plummeted in value by 72 percent loss in only one week. The number of cards sold on the OpenSea website also dropped from a high of 6,661 on December 17 to 260 on December 23. The failure made DDT claim that the project wasn’t for money, just for fun. 

In another failure, DDT lost his lawsuit attempting to keep New York AG Letitia James from “requesting, demanding, possessing or disclosing” amendments to his trust in connection with her fraud case. U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebooks in Florida wrote:

“The Trump Organization has already been found guilty by a New-York jury of several counts of tax fraud. To now impede a civil Enforcement Action by the New York Attorney General would be unprecedented and contrary to the interests of the people of New York.”

After DDT filed his lawsuit, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ordered a court-appointed monitor to watch over the Trump Organization pending a trial about tax fraud slated for next year. James hopes to bar DDT and the family members in her suit from serving as officer or director in any New York corporation. Despite DDT’s claims of political motivation for lawsuits against him, several courts have denied his claims. Middlebrooks also denied DDT’s motion for a preliminary injunction, asserting he would lose his lawsuit. The judge wrote:

“The rule of law is undermined by the toxic combination of political fundraising with legal fees paid by political action committees, reckless and factually untrue statements by lawyers at rallies and in the media, and efforts to advance a political narrative through lawsuits without factual basis or any cognizable legal theory. Lawyers are enabling this behavior…. Additional sanctions may be appropriate.”

DDT’s Trump Organization was found guilty of all nine counts of tax fraud, and the Trump Payroll Corporation was convicted on another eight counts. Executives received benefits in exchange for untaxed income. DDT was not on trial, but prosecutors tied him to illegal financial activity by pointing out he signed documents for a cut in pay in exchange for plum benefits which should have been taxed. Sentencing is scheduled for January 13.    

To avoid current and future lawsuits, including possible criminal charges from the DOJ, DDT tried to declare presidential immunity but thus far failed. The DC Circuit Court is considering any immunity from liability after a lower judge ruled DDT lacks immunity because his actions are purely political. This civil case concerns three lawsuits filed last year by House members and police officers claiming DDTD prompted his supporters to attack. The appeals court has asked DOJ to weigh in on the issue.

DDT’s attorneys must be getting nervous; they turned in more classified documents in early December found in a private external storage facility in West Palm Beach (FL) near Mar-a-Lago. The documents came from a Washington, D.C. federal office building. In June, one of DDT’s attorneys stated he had no more classified documents before a search warrant uncovered 300 classified documents. Attorneys hired a third party to search four of DDT’s properties for more classified materials.

The classified documents came from a Washington, D.C. federal office building. According to emails, DDT staffers and the federal General Services Administration shipped over 3,000 pounds from Northern Virginia to the Florida storage unit in September 2021. The GSA had helped DDT’s team “secure the storage unit at a private facility in West Palm Beach on July 21, 2021,” 18 months after DDT left the White House.

Attorneys ordered at least three searches after a federal judge pushed them to guarantee they had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all documents with classified markings. The legal team also employed an outside company to search DDT’s Bedminster (NJ) golf club and New York Trump Tower as well as one other property. No classified materials were found in New Jersey and New York. Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell told DDT’s legal team to keep searching but didn’t give directions for the process. DDT has lied to his own attorneys about the contents of boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago.

Part of DDT’s ongoing difficulties may come from his lack of qualified advisers. With no senior aide full time, he uses novice sycophants to praise him and give him positive news articles, online posts, etc. Possibly short of money, his current staff tried unsuccessfully to obtain lifetime rent at Mar-a-Lago for the office he created for himself above the club’s ballroom.

One of DDT’s recent scandals was his dinner on November 22 at Mar-a-Lago with anti-Semitic Kanye West and white Christian nationalist 24-year-old Nick Fuentes. Currently, Fuentes is building a large “incel” group of angry men advocating violence against women. Incel, “involuntary celibate,” is the philosophy of men blaming feminist women for disempowering them and denying them sex. The men’s beliefs have led to a number of murders.

Fuentes advocates “burning women alive” when they’re convicted of crimes and wants to gain control with a return to burning witches as in the medieval period. Women are now casting spells, molesting children in schools, and raping men while falsely accusing them of raping women, according to Fuentes. Almost a year ago, he founded Cozy.tv, an “anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-Black, [and] antisemitic” streaming platform that promotes males beating their female partners because females aren’t “as rational as men.” Politicians should spread the incel message among men with the promise to “destroy feminism.”  

DDT has hit a seven-year low in polling with 31 percent favorable views and 59 percent unfavorable opinions. Independents have a 25 percent favorable view compared to 62 percent unfavorable. The 20 percent of Republicans who see DDT unfavorably is the lowest since March 2016.

September 5, 2022

News – September 4, 2022

A few catchups from the past week:

While Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) raves about a rigged election in a Pennsylvania rally, one of his own was convicted for trying to rig a siphoning scam to take votes from a Democratic candidate. The Seminole County (FL) GOP chair was found guilty of using his cousin as a “ghost” candidate,” an increasingly common practice in Florida, through putting a fake candidate on the ballot advertised as a progressive to take votes from the legitimate Democrat candidate. Floridian Republicans have also changed voter registrations from Democratic voters to the GOP without consent, and several Republicans in the retirement Villages voted twice. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, has created state election police, but they are not investigating these election frauds. 

DeSantis’ election force has also not investigated him for another voter fraud, arresting 20 people with one of them dragged to jail in his underwear at 6:00 am. In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported the right of released felons to vote, but GOP legislators said they had to first pay all their fees and fines. Chaos reigned with no system to let people know if they were ineligible to cast a ballot. DeSantis’ appointees approved the completed registration cards for felons so the duly registered ex-felons didn’t know they were disenfranchised. To convict those charged, prosecutors must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the arrested people knew their votes were illegal. DeSantis just want to make eligible voters afraid to cast ballots, destroying democracy.

At least 150,000 Jackson (MS) residents continue to lack safe drinking water, and the mayor said they face “a much longer road ahead” before services are fully restored. Relying on bottled water, they can’t take baths, wash dishes, etc. The city said that “all of Jackson should now have pressure,” useless for most personal needs except flushing toilets. After decades of neglect, the Pearl River flooding set off problems at one of two water treatment plants, but residents had already been under a boil-water order when the pumps failed. The crisis is a combination of poor infrastructure, climate change, and systemic racism as a Democratic city government tried to deal with a Republican governor and state legislature.

The governor accused the city of mismanagement two months after the federal EPA system violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In March 2020, the EPA found the potential for bacteria such as E.Coli and issued an emergency order to fix the deficiencies. Jackson residents lost access to clean water for weeks in 2021 when the pipes froze. A fire knocked all five pumps at one treatment plant out of service, and last October lawyers sued for “hundreds if not thousands” of children being poisoned by lead in the water. As white people fled the city, 20,000 between 2000 and 2010, Jackson lost both tax revenue and institutional support as In 40 years, the population of Jackson dropped from 200,000 in 1980 and over from 50 percent white to 80 percent Black.    

The long tentacles of health care provided by the Catholic Church reaches farther than hospitals, as students at Ohio’s Oberlin College discovered last week. Campus student health services would provide contraception only for health problems other than preventing pregnancy, and only victims of sexual assault can receive emergency contraception. Oberlin outsourced the student health services to a Catholic health agency which follows religious directives prohibiting contraception to prevent pregnancy—and blocking gender-affirming care. The college developed an alternative plan to offer reproductive health services to students on campus, but some states’ guidelines are similar to the Catholic Church. About 40 percent of reproductive age women live “in areas with high or dominant Catholic hospital market share,” according to a researcher of data in 2020. Many people don’t realize that the Catholic Church controls their health care because the information is concealed. Options of patients, especially low-income ones, can be disproportionately restricted.

Texas spent $12.7 million to bus migrants to the East Coast–$1,400 per person. A one-way, same-day ticket from El Paso costs $291 to New York City and $324 to Washington, D.C., and same-day flights are under $400. Gov. Greg Abbott is asking for private donations for his project but received only $167,828 as of August 17. His goal is to “incite fear among Americans,” a typical Republican strategy, but busing saves migrants money by taking them closer to their destinations.

After DDT spent months attacking House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), warfare is breaking out between McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), chair of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm. Like many other Republicans privately express, McConnell doubts the “quality” of DDT-picked candidates winning primaries, fearing both the Senate and House this year will be lost—again. Scott attacked McConnell in an op-ed for the conservative Washington Examiner, accusing “the very people responsible for losing the Senate last cycle” of “trash-talking our Republican candidates.” Without giving McConnell’s name, Scott’s message was clear, coming two weeks after McConnell expressed concern about the GOP taking back the Senate in 2022. Some of DDT’s infamous candidates for Senate are Blake Masters (AZ), Herschel Walker (GA), and Mehmet Oz (PA). Earlier this year, Scott irritated McConnell by releasing the radically-right “Plan to Rescue America” which alienated many affiliated voters.

Scott is also in trouble for the lack of money in the GOP Senate campaign arm. By the end of July, the committee collected a record $181.5 million but spent over 95 percent of it, $26 million just on texting people to donate. The remaining $23.2 million is less than half of the Democratic committee stash leading up to the November election in two months. Scott is getting blamed for not bringing in money, and his group is canceling bookings for advertising, ones they can’t get back even if they manage to raise the money.

The Senate funding committee decided to not pick anyone in the primaries after DDT’s endorsements. In the past decade, it avoided out-of-the mainstream nominees who might lose in the general election; this year many GOP candidates winning the primaries haven’t run for office before. Their negative, expensive primaries left favorable ratings underwater, and they trail in many battlegrounds with well-funded Democratic opponents. By mid-August, Dems outspent their opponents by four-to-one in Ohio, over double in Arizona, and almost two-to-one in Nevada as well as by $14 million in Georgia.  

Scott gained more notoriety by criticizing President Joe Biden’s Delaware “staycation” while on a luxury yacht in Italy during the Florida primaries. He claimed he had planned his trip to Italy long ago because of a wedding anniversary, but the primaries were also planned well in advance. Presidents typically take off a few weeks in August because of the annual congressional recess for the month, and Scott defrauded the government out of Medicare funds while CEO of a large Florida health system.

After 28 months, litigation about DDT’s financial records going to a House committee has reached a settlement: DDT’s former accounting firm Mazurs must turn over some records to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Records are narrowed to financial ties between DDT or his businesses with foreign countries for 2017-2018 and documents between November 2016 and 2018 for DDT’s company holding the lease with the federal government for the former Trump International Hotel. Earlier this year, Mazurs said it had fired DDT and that the firm’s financial statements prepared to DDT “should no longer be relied upon” because it used DDT’s figures.

Last month, despite DDT’s legal opposition, a three-judge appellate court agreed with a lower court decision that the Treasury Department should provide DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. DDT’s DOJ allowed former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to block the committee from obtaining the returns with the excuse that Democrats wanted them for partisan reason. The committee successfully renewed the request after Biden’s inauguration, seeking DDT’s tax returns and additional information from 2015 to 2020. 

A Virginia state judge dismissed two cases attempting to bar the public display and sale of two books the plaintiff alleged obscene under an obscure state law. By taking this action, the judge also struck down the law, finding it unconstitutional. Filing by lawyers, presently a GOP state assembly delegate and a former GOP congressional candidate, assert the award-winning graphic memoir Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and well-reviewed A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas were “obscene for unrestricted viewing by minors.” The statute does not allow for a work to be “obscene for minors” and failed to prove that the books are obscene at all. The plaintiffs’ declaration violated both the U.S. and the Virginia constitutions. One of the lawyers, who lost his June 21 primary for Congress by 40 points, tried to build a case for “parental rights.” John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary, said that the plaintiffs tried to weaponize the use of obscenity laws against books that don’t “fit their worldview.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs will begin providing abortions for beneficiaries if the person is endangered by pregnancy or the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. The VA has made this medical procedure available before but amended its regulations for safety reasons after the Supreme Court and states overturned Roe v. Wade. The rule will be available for a 30-day comment after being published on September 1.

February 14, 2022

Just on Monday: DDT’s Finances, Sarah Palin’s Lost Lawsuit, Trucker Convoy

The rats are leaving the sinking Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ship. His tax firm, Mazars Accounting, fired the Trump Organization as its client and stated that last decade’s statements “should no longer be relied upon.”  AG Letitia James, investigating DDT’s financial affairs for a civil suit, had already described his valuation process as often inaccurate or misleading when compared with the supporting data and documentation that the Trump Organization submitted to its accounting firm.” DDT greatly low-balled the property valuations for taxation purposes while inflating them to get loans.

Last year, James obtained DDT’s personal and corporate tax returns back to 2011. Mazars refuse finish this year’s tax returns, due February 15, 2021, including personal returns for Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The taxes have unresolved information regarding the apartment of Matthew Calamari Jr., son of DDT’s security director, who was called to testify in a separate case about a tax fraud scheme for employees receiving untaxed payment including cars and apartments.

Mazars executive and accountant Donald Bender has helped prepare DDT’s financial statements since at least 2002. The company’s departure is joined by banks, law firms, and consulting firms refused to do business with the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization statement declared there were no “material discrepancies.” James’ examination of DDT’s statements to banks and insurers between 2004 and 2020, however, revealed numerous discrepancies between the properties’ condition and DDT’s assertions about them on those such as his Seven Springs estate (Westchester County, NY), his triplex in Trump Tower, his Scotland golf resort, his Westchester golf club, Trump Park Avenue in Manhattan, and his 40 Wall Street office building.

James’ office found inaccuracies in the Trump Organization statements to the IRS and General Services, holding the federal lease to DDT’s D.C. hotel. The attorney general is working with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in his criminal investigation. DDT’s son Eric, who oversees the Trump businesses, and the Trumps’ lawyers, claim James has a political bias.

Last fall, DDT was $1.3 billion in debt, including an additional $200 million after he left the White House. Over $730 million is owed in the next three years, part of it $100 million on Trump Tower in September 2022 and $285 on a New York skyscraper million in November 2022. Another $353 million comes due in 2023 and 2024.  By 2020, DDT was down to $93 million in liquid assets, $200 million less than in 2015, and could owe between $100 million and $300 million or more in back taxes, restitution, and penalties. None of DDT’s businesses makes a profit, and his legal fees of $1.6 million are rapidly increasing. 

DDT’s holdings may be worth $2.1 billion, but that’s about two-thirds of their value before the pandemic. Before his father died, DDT declared bankruptcy and got more millions from his father, no longer possible. His only guaranteed income is an annual pension of about $200,000 for having been elected president, and his move toward “poverty” could be dangerous for the United States. DDT’s wealth of information, especially if he’s receiving classified briefings, will be valuable to foreign governments when he seeks help from them. Without help from domestic banks, foreign loans are his only resort. His biggest need, however, would be to be elected president to regain that clout.

To divert from from attention from Mazurs’ letter that he was likely cheating on his taxes and other financial statements, DDT promoted the evidence-free claim that Hillary Clinton “spied” on him during his campaign by hacking him. He called for Clinton to be executed, and sycophant Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) echoed the call to kill Clinton for the non-existent crime. Jordan said, “We’ve never seen anything like this in history …, truly unprecedented,” failing to acknowledge that most of what DDT does is “truly unprecedented.”

Jordan also has a reason for diverting the media into a new direction: he’s been called before the House January 6 investigative committee to explain his personal role in the insurrection—another “truly unprecedented” action. Michael Edison Hayden with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project referenced Jordan and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) when he said, “Some of these politicians sound more like 8chan posters, or Daily Stormer commenters, than leaders.” Among other inflammatory declarations, DDT failed to condemn white supremacists, promoted the extremist Proud Boys, and told January 6 insurrectionists “we love you” in his video address after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.  

DDT accused former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann of working for Clinton in his investigation into a “covert communications channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, tied to the Kremlin. Sussman actually represented Tech Executive-1. An examination of Special Investigator John Durham’s report shows no direct connection between the Clinton campaign and the Alfa Ban investigation, and Durham didn’t use the term “infiltrate” as Fox asserted.

These claims came from DDT’s former staffer Kash Patel who focuses on protecting DDT. He allegedly pushed intelligence agencies to release classified secrets, hoping to prove unfair prosecution of DDT and illegally disclosed classified information. Close to heading up the CIA, he was also suspected of controlling U.S. intelligence and military command centers to keep DDT in the White House. Patel was apppointed as Pentagon chief of staff in November 2020 and blocked President-elect Joe Biden’s transition from access to information and officials.

During the past six years, DDT has a history of non-fact accusations about being “wire tapped,” starting out with President Obama as the false perpetrator. With Patel, DDT entered another chapter.

After a decade-long battle, Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, again lost her libel case against the New York Times this time when a judge plans to dismiss the lawsuit. He said she didn’t meet the high legal standard of “actual malice” in a 2017 editorial with an inaccurate claim about her and would formally issue the ruling after the jury verdict. It was the first libel suit against the NYT to go to trial almost 20 years.  Palin may appeal the ruling to a higher court. The trial had been delayed because of Palin’s positive COVID results although she ate out twice in New York restaurants during that time without wearing a mask.

The newspaper editorial connected the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, along with the wounding of 13 others and the deaths of six, to the map on Palin’s website from her PAC showing crosshairs on several districts, including that of Giffords. After the NYT apologized for the error of the connection, a judge initially dismissed the case, but a federal court took it. The New York Times v. Sullivan case (1964) ruled that a public figure must prove an outlet operated with “actual malice” in publishing defamatory information.

The battle is not yet finished; the case could end up with the conservative Supreme Court that tends to rule against First Amendment rights. If the high court were to overturn the 1964 decision, right-wing media outlets could be in worse trouble than mainstream sources.

On the flip side, a federal judge, appointed by DDT, has ruled that federal agencies cannot base decisions on the global “social cost of carbon.” In Louisiana, James Cain stated that the guideline “directly causes harm” for state revenue from the oil and gas lease sales.

The trucker convoy in Canada to stop mandatory vaccinations for Canada-U.S. crossings is temporarily halted, and traffic again flows on Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit (MI) daily carrying $360 million in cargo, about 25 percent of the trade between the two countries. The seven-day blockade caused just the auto industry to face losses as high as $988 million. The cost of the blockades so far has been estimated at $300 million a day. Plants from Ford, GM, Stellantis, Honda, and Toyota have all been idled, and hundreds of thousands of workers without pay are accompanied by a shortage of new cars, once again forcing up prices.

Protesters are still choking traffic in Ottawa and crossings in Emerson, Manitoba, and Coutts, Alberta. Canada’s capital is still paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional daily policing. Over half the Canadians, 53 percent, oppose the protests, and 59 percent disapprove of the truckers’ tactics. The numbers are rising as the protests continue.

Evidence of U.S. support from conservatives came after hackers found the 92,845 donors to the Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo and put them online. Vice grabbed the data: 56 percent of donors came from the U.S. although the 29 percent of Canadians outraised them, $4.3 million to $3.6 million. Hackers also diverted the website, still offline, to GiveSendDone.wtf that shows a video from Disney’s film Frozen with a statement comparing donors to insurrectionists. GiveSendGo provides a platform for extremists—the Proud Boys, QAnon followers, and families of January 6 insurrectionists in prison. A Canadian judge froze the $8.7 million from the Christian site, and the GoFundMe website was closed down after $10 million, returning all but $1 million to the donors.  

Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) is just one GOP congressional member calling for big trucker protests in the United States to “clog things up” and incidentally destabilize the nation’s economy. Their promotion failed at the Super Bowl so now they’re hoping to blockade Biden’s State of the Union speech on March 1. The GOP, the new party of protest.  

July 9, 2020

DDT’s Royal Crown in Jeopardy, Final SCOTUS Decisions

A decade ago, the Supreme Court and the electorate moved the United States toward a low point in its democracy: the Supreme Court ruled unlimited donations for political candidates in Citizens United, and Tea Party voters elected corrupt politicians for gerrymandering. The U.S. expanded oligarchical control and picked Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), interested only in personal wealth and self-aggrandizement, who signed hundreds of executive orders benefiting only himself, not the country. For two years, DDT controlled all three branches of government until Republicans lost faith and put Democrats in control of the house in 2018. 

Supreme Court decisions in the past month have not all appeared to be the highly conservative ones DDT expected when he nominated Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the high court. Until this week, Chief Justice John Roberts leaned away from the four conservative justices in an anti-abortion case although he went with them in allowing abuses of the environment, financial oversight, and independent agencies. A majority of the justices ruled states could not discriminate against LGBTQ employees, protected DACA recipients, and let stand victories for gun safety and sanctuary laws.  

Two rulings today moved democracy back on its path. Even Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, who voted against the specific subpoenas for DDT, agreed DDT is not “king of the United States.” DDT lost his claim of complete immunity from the law. One ruling concerns congressional ability to obtain a president’s financial records from third parties, and the other determines whether a president is immune from state criminal investigation. A New York prosecutor can subpoena DDT’s private and business financial records; the second ruling sent the question back to the lower court to match the restrictions placed onto the subpoenas. The wording of the decision means the information will most likely not appear before the November election, but the premise of the U.S. not being a kingdom with a monarch is vital for democracy.

In the majority opinion, Roberts wrote:

“In our judicial system, ‘the public has a right to every man’s evidence.’ Since the earliest days of the Republic, ‘every man’ has included the President of the United States.”

Furious, DDT lied in a tweet about “broad deference” in the past “BUT NOT ME.” In another tweet, he yelled about “PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT.” DDT began railing against the judiciary even before the decisions were released to the public. “Not fair,” DDT cried, about the possibility of releasing his tax returns and financial records. Yet he cannot block subpoenas if his action impedes Congress from carrying out its responsibilities; a lower court must “assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena.” DDT cannot protest that the subpoenas will take too much of his time, because the subpoena is for private companies and not to him.

The permission for New York to obtain records also removes any special, heightened standard of proof. Roberts used the ruling that Thomas Jefferson was not immune from a subpoena for records in a trial with Aaron Burr. Another citation came from U.S. v. Nixon: “The President’s ‘generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.’”

The opinion placed these restrictions on subpoenas regarding DDT:

  • Subpoenas cannot be for information searches if other sources are available.
  • Subpoenas cannot be too broad.
  • Lawmakers submitting subpoenas must explain how the information advances potential legislation.
  • Confidentiality does not apply if “executive deliberations” don’t exist. court must “assess the burdens imposed on the President by a subpoena.”

In another win for the people of the United States, the Supreme Court ruled a large portion of eastern Oklahoma, including much of Tulsa, is Indian reservation where state authorities cannot prosecute Native Americans. In the 5-to-4 decision, Gorsuch provided the swing vote. The case, which SCOTUS postponed from last year with a different plaintiff, concerns the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Members of five Indian nations were forced from Georgia, Florida, and Alabama in the 1830s. To take the land for White expansion, the U.S. Army forced-marched the Native Americans on the “Trail of Tears” to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) where the survivors were promised land. Over 3,000 Indians died on the journey.

In the late 19th century, Congress took courts, governments, and laws from the Creek Nation and forced them to change tribal lands into privately-owned allotments for the tribe’s members before selling surplus land to white settlers. Yet Congress never specifically abolished the reservation’s treaty promising the Oklahoma land in perpetuity. In the majority opinion, Neil Gorsuch wrote:

“If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law.”

The Oklahoma decision affects almost half of the state’s population. According to the majority ruling, only Congress, not the courts, can modify treaty agreements and change reservation boundaries. Federal officers, not state authorities, will be in charge of prosecuting tribal members for major crimes on the reservation, but the question remains regarding the authority of state and city governments in regulations such as taxation and zoning. The Oklahoma AG and leaders of five tribal groups—Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole nations—are negotiating an agreement for “shared jurisdiction” to submit to Congress. The Native American sovereign nations and the state must also deal with thousands Indian prosecutions for over a century. 

In two other decisions, the Supreme Court reinforced DDT’s Christian rule. DDT’s expansion of birth control exemptions for employers who claim religious and moral reasons in opposition to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurance plans and employers except for religious nonprofits must cover contraception without cost sharing. Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer voted with the conservative majority only because the Executive Branch has the power to make this mandate. The nation’s support for universal health care has been growing, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, and this ruling may enlist more support. Ironically, the Supreme Court opposes abortion while opposing access to abortion prevention. A new president in January could rescind the DHS mandate about employers’ moral perception ruling the lives of women, perhaps guiding some women in their voting choice.  

In another ruling today, religious schools can fire teachers or anyone else supposedly acting as “ministers” to the students. One of the plaintiffs was fired because of her age, the other because she had breast cancer. The two cases leave over 126,000 women without free contraception plus with far more at risk with SCOTUS giving DDT permission for exemptions and tens of thousands of people prevented from suing for job discrimination. An earlier SCOTUS decision forces taxpayers to pay for religious schools, meaning taxpayers must pay for discrimination in education. One of the plaintiffs was demoted because she was 63, the other because she had breast cancer. 

The last decision this week referred to “faithless electors,” voting for their own preference in the Electoral College. That practice is now illegal after the SCOTUS ruling, stating representatives must vote according to their state’s majority vote for president. In the majority opinion, Kagan left wiggle room for 18 states not requiring conformity between the popular vote and the agent in the Electoral College as well as the current initiative passed in 15 states and pending in another ten which pledges electors to the winner of the national popular vote instead of their statewide totals. 

David Farris is making suppositions about Roberts preparing for a Biden presidency. The last two nominations have demonstrated the ugliness of Senate Republicans—first the refusal to consider President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, for almost a year followed by the GOP manipulation of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. The corruption surrounding the GOP control of the Supreme Court has led to a suggestion that Democrats would enlarge the court if they control the presidency and Senate. Justification might be the appointment of four justices by presidents who lost the popular vote.

Roberts wants to be known for a legitimate court, a difficulty if he needs to vote conservative on an 11-person group of justices. His narrow dance with the Louisiana abortion case kept him from fury about an out-of-control institution from the left although it left him with an unhappy right wing. The end of the 2020 decisions leaves enough liberal victories to quiet those who were highly disappointed with Anthony Kennedy’s disastrous decisions before his 2018 departure. Walking a fine line, Roberts seemed to vote liberal while not really making progressive decisions. Instead, several of the rulings such as DACA and DDT’s financial records merely postponed cases by returning them to lower courts. The abortion ruling invited a conservative assault on women’s rights. Most of the other cases clearly gave control to big business and reinforced voter suppression.

If DDT wins, Roberts can put conservatism into cement; if Biden wins Roberts will continue the veneer of moderation while pushing long-term conservatism, including the overturn of ACA. He’ll copy the last 20 years with one step forward, three steps behind.

COVID-19 in the world on July 9: 12,390,734 cases and 557,416 deaths. And in the United States: 3,219,999 cases and 135,822 deaths. New U.S. cases in the past 24 hours: 61,067.

September 19, 2019

The Self-Appointed King Tries to Hide

Loose Lips Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had to be reminded that he was spreading classified information when he used his signature Sharpie to proud signed the wall replacement—that he called the “new” wall—at the southern border and said:

“One thing we haven’t mentioned is technology. They’re wired so that we will know if somebody’s trying to break through….   You won’t be able to touch it. You can fry an egg on that wall.”

Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, acting head of the Army Corps, couldn’t even stop him with his recommendation, “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that” before DDT described the steel wall’s beams as heat conductors.

Breaking just hours later was news about an intelligence community whistleblower who described a “promise” that DDT made a foreign leader that “raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information.” A high authority, presumably DDT, has ordered the information kept even from congressional members who have legal access to the report. The term “new” means that the concern came after one last summer when DDT released a detailed photo of a failed Iranian launch that was possibly classified, his earlier release of highly classified information to Russian guests about a highly sensitive and valuable matter with Israel, and the discussion of North Korea ballistic missile tests in front of Mar-a-Lago guests and staff. He also refuses to give up his unsecured cellphone. Conservatives point out that presidents can declassify any information, but DDT is the first person in the Oval Office who lacks any filter on his mouth after complaining throughout his campaign about Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 emails.

DDT’s response to the news about the whistleblower was “No problem!”—that people are always listening to his conversations with a foreign leader. He also stated that he was far too smart to “say something inappropriate” in that situation and he “would only do what is right.” The news isn’t “fake,” as he claimed: the whistleblower filed a complaint, the IG’s office examined the complaint, and he considered it credible and urgent enough that he contacted the Office of the Director of National Intelligence which illegally worked with the DOJ to circumvent legal process on congressional disclosure.

After the acting DNI and IG appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) reported that the complaint came from “more than one” event although the IG refused to give any other information about the complaint. The impression from the hearing is that the DOJ (aka AG Bill Barr) and DDT are trying to cover up the situation. The acting DNI will testify in open session on September 26, and both men will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week. From appearances, the DOJ (aka AG Bill Barr) and DDT are trying to cover up the situation.    

According to a source, the “promise” was made on a phone call. Reporters found conversations with three foreign leaders in the two months before the complaint filing:  Chinese President Xi Jinping (June 18), French President Emmanuel Macron (July 1), and Russian President Vladimir Putin (July 31). The call with Putin wasn’t recorded, but Russia announced it. Key events during that time of the event and coverup: Dan Coates, Director of National Intelligence, resigned (July 28); U.S. pulled out of INF treaty with Russia (August 2); John Huntsman, the Russian Ambassador, resigned (August 6); and Joseph Maguire named acting DNI (August 8). Maguire was the person who went to the DOJ and told to withhold the information.

Today the media also reported communication 18 days before the complaint was filed in August 12 between DDT and new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The readout of the call noted a focus on Ukraine’s ability to “complete investigations into corruption cases that have hampered Ukraine-US cooperation.” House Democrats were already investigating the call to check on the possibility that DDT and his attorney Rudy Giuliani were manipulating Ukraine to help DDT’s reelection campaign. Records related to efforts to blackmail the Ukrainian government into helping DDT’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, in prison for illegal lobbying and financial fraud, and finding dirt on Democratic presidential candidate through his son’s activity in Ukraine while Hunter Biden was on the board of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma. DDT had also blocked financial aid for Ukraine that Congress had appropriated.

Giuliani has already pressured Zelensky to extend an investigation into Hunter Biden although previous inquiries had discovered no wrongdoing and advised DDT about how to deal with Zelensky. Last week, DDT released the $250 million to Ukraine after a bipartisan push.

In a letter written this week, Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson disagreed with the basis of DDT’s suppression of the whistleblower’s complaint that the situation is out of the DNI’s jurisdiction because it doesn’t concern anyone in the intelligence community and that its release would violate DDT’s “privilege.” Atkinson wrote that the DNI and the DOJ are wrong, that the “disclosure not only falls within the DNI’s jurisdiction, but relates to one of the most significant and important of the DNI’s responsibilities to the American people.” He continued that denial of permission to disclose the “general subject matter” of the complaint to Congress affects “the execution of two of my most important duties and responsibilities as the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community”—his responsibility toward the whistleblower and his duties to the congressional oversight committees.

While DDT declares himself above the law in not permitting congressional members to see a whistleblower complaint, his lawyers are making the same “above the law” claim in a lawsuit against New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance. New York had subpoenaed eight years of his state tax returns per a new state law, and lawyers declared that DDT cannot be criminally investigated while he is in office. With no legal backing, they argued that sitting presidents are immune from all criminal inquiries while in the White House. It’s their enormous responsibility and unique role that removes them from any legal action, especially from local prosecutors. Any “originalist” judge or justice who believes in following the words of the Constitution would laugh in the lawyers’ faces; those words aren’t in the Constitution.

The lawyers themselves probably are aware of their arguments’ ridiculousness, but they’re working hard to delay the release of DDT’s financial records. The request for DDT’s personal and corporate tax returns came from a search into the part that he and his family played in making hush payments to two women during his presidential campaign.

DDT has filed other lawsuits to keep his tax returns private since he promised to make public after his election. These include attempts by congressional Democrats, New York lawmakers, and California in a law requiring presidential primary candidates to release tax returns before being on the ballot. A judge ruled against California today, winning legal arguments were on narrower grounds.

During the Nixon and Clinton administrations, the DOJ barred federal prosecutors from charging a sitting president with a federal crime while in office, claiming that impeachment is the process for wrongdoing. The orders, however, do not deal with state prosecutors. During his time in the Oval Office, DDT has been investigated in federal criminal inquiries by special investigator Robert Mueller. As of May 13, 2019, federal, state, and congressional authorities had at least 29 investigations into DDT’s businesses, campaign, inauguration, and presidency. In May, Mueller said that the DOJ “explicitly permits” the investigation of presidents, but they cannot be charged with federal crimes. DDT’s lawyers claim that investigations against a sitting president are also unconstitutional and called the Manhattan DA “a county prosecutor.”

According to New York law, filing a false business record can be a felony if that the filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud. If Vance obtains DDT’s tax returns, they remain secret unless they are used as evidence in a criminal case.

Thus far, judges have not quashed any subpoenas for his tax returns, and today he obtained only a one-week delay.  The winners of the 2016 election are the lawyers. Being in court doesn’t seem “burdensome” for DDT because he spends a lot of time suing other people.

In another attempt to hide information from Congress, the White House refuses to reveal potentially disqualifying material in Darrell Issa’s FBI file for his director of U.S. Trade and Development Agency confirmation before the Senate. Issa has escaped convictions after his run-ins with the law. Only GOP and Democrat leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee were allowed to see the file, and Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) initially decided to schedule hearings without the agreement of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Over Menendez’ objections, the confirmation for Marshall Billingslea for the State Department’s human rights activities leader continued despite document gaps in his file while he worked on detainee torture policies for George W. Bush. Risch had asked the White House for Issa’s FBI file but receive no response.

DDT’s game is to succeed in his corruption through declaring himself king and hiding everything.

July 28, 2019

DDT: Week 131 – Disastrous Domestic Events

A second day of false and racist tweets from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) about what he calls the “Cumming [sic] district” came from a slanted video by a guest on Fox & Friends who sought out the most struggling, severely impoverished Baltimore neighborhoods. The heavily gerrymandered district has urban, suburban and rural areas ranging from well-off to poor, but the video focused on only one aspect. DDT’s racist rants followed Cummings’ criticism of southern border detention centers, subpoenas for emails and texts of White House aides including Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, and Robert Mueller’s congressional testimony where Cummings asked people to pay attention to activities of DDT and his associates.

Kushner owns thousands of rental units in Baltimore County providing substandard housing to lower-income tenants and cited for hundreds of code violations. His company made repairs only after threats of fines for mice infestations, mold problems, and maggots. DDT wants Cummings to thank him for low unemployment figures for blacks, but most of the drop in unemployment rates for blacks came during President Obama’s terms (16.8 percent to 7.8 percent) and from Democratic policies.

Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended DDT’s racist comments, saying he would have been fired as representative if his district had Cummings’ problems. Compared to Cummings’ district, Mulvaney’s former district, South Carolina’s 5th district, has a lower median household income and a similar poverty rate, 14.9 percent versus 16.6 percent. The Baltimore Sun’s editorial ran with the headline, “Better to have a few rats than to be one.”

Afraid that Congress will see his tax returns, DDT is suing the House Ways and Means Committee, the New York state attorney general, and a New York state tax official to hide state tax returns—although the House has not tried to get the returns. His lawsuit follows a complaint from the House committee to get DDT’s federal tax returns.

A judge also ruled that   a lawsuit against DDT’s alleged deceptive and unfair business practices may proceed. Roberta Kaplan, who successfully argued the Supreme Court marriage equality decision in U.S. v. Windsor, represents the plaintiffs who claim that DDT and three of his children scammed them.

A federal jury convicted Michael Flynn’s former business partner Bijan Rafiekian because of the work that the two men did for Turkish interests during the last months of DDT’s presidential campaign in 2016—acting as an unregistered foreign agent and lying to the DOJ. Flynn was DDT’s national security adviser for 24 days; his sentencing is pending.

Four automakers—Ford, Honda, VW, and BMW—from three continents have a deal with California to sell the state more fuel-efficient cars after DDT rolled back tougher standards.

Election systems in all 50 states were Russian targets, according to the heavily-redacted Senate Intelligence Committee report. Subsequent volumes will report on Russia’s use of social media for influencing the vote. The committee recommended a paper trail for voter machines and backups for registration systems, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to take any action. A new hashtag #Moscow Mitch came from Joe Scarborough who asked, “How can Moscow Mitch keep denying that Vladimir Putin continues to try to subvert American democracy?” Lobbyists for the two largest electronic voting machine vendors that provide 80 percent of the voting machines in the U.S. donated to McConnell’s campaigns. Fourteen states used electronic voting systems with no paper trail in 2018.

DDT thought he was home free after a judge ruled in favor of his new rule requiring asylum seekers to ask for protection in another country before crossing the southern border, but soon after that ruling, another judge blocked DDT’s rule. The second judge stated that the “new Rule is likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.”

In the UN, DDT blocked condemnation of Israel’s demolishing Palestinian homes on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Israel claimed that the 10 apartment buildings were a threat to Israeli armed forces, a barrier outlawed by the UN in 2004. Israelis performed the demolishment operation in the night and displaced Palestine refugees, some of them for a second time. https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/07/1042981

This is “who we are” as a country as DDT brings out the worst in people:

Three million more poor people may go hungry, thanks to Minnesota millionaire Rob Undersander who said he managed to get food stamps. Over 250,000 children won’t receive free school meals, no one with $2,000 in savings can receive food stamps, and people are discouraged from working longer, getting a job with better pay, and saving for education or emergencies. The change, claimed to save $2.5 billion, will require expenditures of extra paperwork, staff hours, and other costs.

DOJ’s AG Bill Barr plans to kill people by lifting the 16-year hiatus on federal capital punishment with five executions in December and January. Conviction for one of them has been described as “unreliable.” Twenty-one states abandoned capital punishment, and several others have frozen them.

Pedro Arriago-Santoya is the seventh person to die in ICE custody in the past nine months. At least 25 people have died in ICE custody since DDT was inaugurated, and another 12 have died in federal immigration custody that includes Border Patrol station and youth migrant detention centers.

ICE posted a job from a for-profit company for “lead physician” of a “facility” who will be “philosophically committed to the objectives of the facility” and “based on the company goals, objectives and philosophy.” That company, GEO, “permitted armed men to forcibly remove the fathers [from their children] from their rooms at the Karnes Detention Center by using bulletproof vests, shields, knee pads, boots, helmets, tear gas equipment and guns” and told them “that they would never see their sons again.” That “general practitioner” can make $400,000 a year without board certification.

Francisco Erwin Galicia, the 18-year-old U.S.-born citizen captured in Texas 75 miles from the Mexican border, was imprisoned in a detention center for 23 days. He lost 26 pounds and considered self-deporting just to escape horrific conditions. Locked up with 60 other men in an area so crowded that some of them slept in the toilet area, he was given only a few “HandiWipes” for cleaning—no showers, no clean clothes, no other hygiene. He had his papers, but, according to their own documents, border agents lied about his telling them that he was a U.S. citizen. Galicia was denied a telephone call to his mother for help and released only after Dallas Morning News reporting.

Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania sent 1,000 threatening letters to parents, telling them their children could go into foster care if the lunch debt of over $10 wasn’t paid. Rep. Omar Ilhan (D-MN) has co-introduced a bill to stop multiple incidences of lunch debt shaming. Oregon gives free lunches to students up to three times above the poverty level.

Carrizo Springs, the “model” detention center for unaccompanied migrant minors used to show how well migrant children are treated, is closing. Opened last month, the facility has a five-year, $8.8 million lease; BCFS Health and Human Services received a $308 million contract through January 2020 to house up to 1,344 children at a cost of $750 to $800 per child per day. Children will be sent from the non-profit facility to for-profit centers like the already-crowded one in Homestead (FL) where inmates have been abused. 

After McConnell was forced by public decency to allow a vote for the House bill passing by 402-2 that provides health care for 9/11 First Responders, it passed that chamber by 97-2. Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart was instrumental in the bill’s House passage and watched McConnell take the bill to the Senate floor. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), one of the no votes, was furious because of no offset costs for the annual $1 billion expenditure. Paul supported the tax cuts for the wealthy and big business that cost taxpayers $1 trillion ever year.

Like deadbeat DDT, VP Mike Pence isn’t paying his bills, this one $24,000 for security at a fundraiser bringing him $700,000. The event was at the Caribou Club in Colorado owned by a gay couple.

The 40-percent tax cuts for big business failed; private-sector investments dropped for the first time in several years in opposition to GOP promises of increased business investment. Tax cuts aren’t paying for themselves, they aren’t boosting economic growth, and they don’t increase private-sector hiring. Businesses bought back their stocks and gave markets a false short term boost before they sheltered their benefits overseas.

The Equifax settlement promising $125 for each person whose personal data was stolen may be $.21 if all 147 million people apply, and the money won’t hide Social Security numbers. Yet people who do nothing automatically waive any right to take legal action against Equifax. People can check here to see if their data was stolen; the deadline is 1/22/2020. People who settle also waive any right to take legal action. Those who want to keep the option of taking legal action must mail a written “request for exclusion,” postmarked by Nov. 19, 2019, to the settlement administrator. Updates available here.

May 20, 2019

Watch DDT’s Stonewalling Crumble

 

Personal issues have kept me from writing the past week, but today’s news is so outstanding that I couldn’t resist writing about it. (Within the next few days, I’ll catch up on last week’s news.)

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), who is frantically trying to hide all his personal affairs from the public, lost big in court for a beginning fight with Congress. A federal judge upheld a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for eight years of DDT’s tax returns from his accounting firm, Mazars USA, and rejected arguments from DDT’s lawyers that Congress has no power to obtain the files. These records could show financial misconduct by DDT and his associates.

The judge’s ruling is in accord with opinion from the Supreme Court that Congress has the power to collect “needed information” as a fundamental “attribute of the power to legislate” for the constitutional authority to Congress for all “legislative Powers.” The Constitution also bans courts from interfering with congressional subpoenas issued for legitimate legislative purpose. Courts cannot search for some covert illicit motive from Congress. The judge stated that the House Oversight Committee met this low hurdle.

The Oversight Committee listed four reasons to investigate DDT’s finances:

Accurate finance reporting to the Office of Goverment Ethics to help Congress determine “whether reforms are necessary to address deficiencies with current laws, rules, and regulations.” That goal clearly “falls within the legislative sphere.”

Complying with the Constitution’s foreign emoluments clause that bars a president from accepting gifts from foreign governments without congressional consent.

Failing to disclose “conflicts of interest that may impair his ability to make impartial policy decisions” regarding legislation about ethics of government officials.

Engaging “in illegal conduct before and during his tenure in office.”

The judge noted that the Watergate scandal led to new legislation, including laws on transparency and oversight. DDT’s argument, he wrote, “flies in the face of decades of legislation covering the President.”

In his 41-page ruling, the judge wrote:

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct—past or present—even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

In opposition to the argument from DDT’s lawyers that Congress was usurping the DOJ’s powers to investigate “dubious and partisan” allegations of private conduct, the judge said that a congressional investigation into illegal conduct before and during a president’s time in office fits “comfortably” with Congress’s broad investigative powers, which include an “informing function,” or the power to expose corruption.

The judge also wrote that the House Oversight Committee had “facially valid legislative purposes” for its subpoena:

“It is not for the court to question whether the Committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations.”

The judge refused a stay until DDT’s lawyers can appeal his finding. He gave them seven days for an appeal, and Mazars has seven days to turn over DDT’s tax returns. The judge wrote:

“The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States. But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail.”

DDT keeps complaining about how no other president has ever faced this situation, but DDT is unique in never having disclosed his tax returns, declining to divest from his extensive business dealings including those with foreigners abroad, and refusing to put his assets in a blind trust. His former lawyer Michael Cohen has testified under oath about DDT’s fraudulently inflating and deflating the same assets’ value to benefit his business transactions.

The judge opened by comparing DDT’s lawsuit to President James Buchanan’s similar effort to block an investigation into his affairs and noted that DDT has “taken up [Buchanan’s] fight.” The judge reported that he declined to put his ruling on hold while DDT appeals because the president failed to raise a “serious legal question going to the merits.” James Buchanan, one of the country’s worst leaders who blamed for failing to prevent the Civil War, also whined about about “harassing” congressional inquiries. The judge also pointed out that Congress began its investigation into Bill Clinton before he entered the White House and noted:

“Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a President, before and after taking office. This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.”

In another attempt to hide from House investigation, DDT ordered former White House counsel Don McGahn to ignore a subpoena to appear before the House tomorrow to testify about his interviews with Robert Mueller for his investigation. No longer employed by the government, McGahn is the second after Mazars to test DDT’s success in his demand to resist “all” subpoenas by House members. Earlier, McGahn followed White House directions when he defied a subpoena by refusing to provide documents shared with Mueller relevant to the House inquiry into potential abuses of power.

The DOJ has provided a 15-page opinion stating that McGahn cannot be forced to testify, but it uses no case law to support the opinion. Instead, it is based on past DOJ legal memos. DDT is claiming “executive privilege” to keep the House from obtaining any information, but this privilege can’t be used to hide potential evidence of a crime.If the House holds McGahn in contempt of Congress for not appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, as Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) has threatened, McGahn could face disbarment.

The claim from DDT’s lawyers that other administrations have given senior aides “absolute immunity” resulted in failure by other administrations. A judge appointed by George W. Bush ruled that W.’s former White House counsel, Harriet Miers, could not reject a subpoena, and W. didn’t appeal the ruling. One of President Obama’s appointed judges ruled against privilege for documents whose “sum and substance” were already revealed in a public inspector general report.

On Wednesday, the House Intelligence Committee will vote whether to enforce its subpoena for the release of still-redacted portions of Mueller’s report and certain underlying materials. That day, DDT, his three eldest children, and his company go to court in an attempt to block a subpoena from the House Financial Services Committee for DDT’s bank records from Deutsche Bank AG and Capital One as well as documents related to “possible money-laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.”

New revelations show that DDT’s and Jared Kushner’s accounts at Deutsche Bank were flagged in summer 2016 for possible money laundering transactions but not turned over to authorities. After money in Kushner Companies was moved to Russians, “a suspicious activity report” and supporting documents were moved to Deutsche’s private-banking division in New York where managers have a relationship with Kushner. The same situation occurred with DDT’s transactions. No information was filed with the Treasury Department, as law requires. The person reporting the suspicious activity was first told to ignore it and was then fired after she pursued it.

In 2004, despite knowing that DDT inflated his net worth, Deutsche Bank lent DDT over $500 million to build a 92-story building in Chicago. The bank also were told DDT had “worked with people in the construction industry connected to organized crime.” Ten years later, the bank was willing to massively exaggerate its vouching that DDT’s net worth was $8.7 billion for him to buy the Buffalo Bills.

With a history of corruption, Deutsche Bank paid hundreds of millions in penalties and is now required to increase its efforts to prevent illicit activities.

The House Intelligence Committee released transcripts of Michael Cohen’s private interviews, including how DDT’s lawyers told him to lie to Congress in his testimony. A person with ties to DDT also suggested Cohen could be pardoned for his discreet testimony. Details here.

While DDT is trying to avoid subpoenas and transparency about his affairs, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) has infuriated Republicans by being the first GOP legislator to claim that DDT “engaged in impeachable conduct” based on the Mueller report. GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) then smeared and lied about Amash, who does ask questions in hearings. At least 68 percent of Amash’s votes are with DDT. Conservatives are now peddling the conspiracy theory that Amash plans to run against DDT for president in 2020.

Amash’s Twitter thread provides background for his position, including his claim that DDT’s fixer AG Bill Barr had “deliberately misrepresented” the findings. Amash pointed out that “few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report.” He tweeted:

“When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law—the foundation of liberty—crumbles.”

We hope that liberty will cause DDT’s stonewalling to crumble. [Thanks to Cynthia Cox Cottam for the above image.]

[Note: Those who wish to read more about the news above and/or factcheck the material may wish to use the links.]

April 24, 2019

‘A Serious Crime against America’

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has declared war on the U.S. Congress while treating members as if they work for him instead of being in a separate and equal branch of the government. The Robert Mueller investigation closed down soon after the Senate confirmed DDT’s new fixer, Bill Barr, as the U.S. attorney general—a position that is supposed to be independent of the President of the United States. Now DDT is trying to block every House investigation into his actions.

Details in DDT’s Finances: DDT’s accounting firm Mazars USA told House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it would give him ten years of DDT’s financial statements if they received a subpoena after DDT’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, said that DDT had participated in possible bank fraud by inflating or deflating his assets to get loans and avoid real estate taxes. First, DDT’s lawyers threatened the firm with legal action if it follows the law and then sued Cummings to block the subpoena using the 1880 Supreme Court ruling in Kilbourn v. Thompson. That case was overruled by a 1927 decision.

Testimony from DDT’s Former White House Counsel: Trying to block Don McGahn’s testimony from Don McGahn by invoking executive privilege, DDT had earlier told McGahn that he could talk freely with Robert Mueller and failed to claim executive privilege in the release of the Mueller report. McGahn testified to Mueller that DDT told McGahn about DDT’s attempt to fire Robert Mueller. Not only does McGahn work in the government now, he worked for the people of the United States, not DDT. About McGahn’s declaring executive privilege, former federal counsel Jessica Roth said, “That ship has sailed.”

DDT’s Tax Records: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is still dragging his heels in turning over DDT’s tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, saying that he will decide by May 6. Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has a century-old law for his request. DDT’s lawyer wrote the Treasury Department to stop the tax returns from being handed over to House Democrats.

DDT’s Security Clearance Process: The Oversight Committee is also investigating whether people with drug, criminal, or financial problems received top-secret security clearances because of DDT’s demands. DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is one of the clearance recipients. The House subpoenaed Carl Kline, the person responsible for giving clearances after people failed the vetting, who also retaliated against the woman who reported his actions. DDT told Kline, as he told other aides, to ignore all subpoenas to appear before the House committee. Cummings warned that Kline could be held in contempt if he doesn’t appear.

Today, the Washington Post published an op-ed about the need for a response to DDT’s actions that was written by former First Lady, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:

Our election was corrupted, our democracy assaulted, our sovereignty and security violated. This is the definitive conclusion of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. It documents a serious crime against the American people.

The debate about how to respond to Russia’s “sweeping and systematic” attack — and how to hold President Trump accountable for obstructing the investigation and possibly breaking the law — has been reduced to a false choice: immediate impeachment or nothing. History suggests there’s a better way to think about the choices ahead.

Obviously, this is personal for me, and some may say I’m not the right messenger. But my perspective is not just that of a former candidate and target of the Russian plot. I am also a former senator and secretary of state who served during much of Vladi­mir Putin’s ascent, sat across the table from him and knows firsthand that he seeks to weaken our country.

I am also someone who, by a strange twist of fate, was a young staff attorney on the House Judiciary Committee’s Watergate impeachment inquiry in 1974, as well as first lady during the impeachment process that began in 1998. And I was a senator for New York after 9/11, when Congress had to respond to an attack on our country. Each of these experiences offers important lessons for how we should proceed today.

First, like in any time our nation is threatened, we have to remember that this is bigger than politics. What our country needs now is clear-eyed patriotism, not reflexive partisanship. Whether they like it or not, Republicans in Congress share the constitutional responsibility to protect the country. Mueller’s report leaves many unanswered questions — in part because of Attorney General William P. Barr’s redactions and obfuscations. But it is a road map. It’s up to members of both parties to see where that road map leads — to the eventual filing of articles of impeachment, or not. Either way, the nation’s interests will be best served by putting party and political considerations aside and being deliberate, fair and fearless.

Second, Congress should hold substantive hearings that build on the Mueller report and fill in its gaps, not jump straight to an up-or-down vote on impeachment. In 1998, the Republican-led House rushed to judgment. That was a mistake then and would be a mistake now.

Watergate offers a better precedent. Then, as now, there was an investigation that found evidence of corruption and a coverup. It was complemented by public hearings conducted by a Senate select committee, which insisted that executive privilege could not be used to shield criminal conduct and compelled White House aides to testify. The televised hearings added to the factual record and, crucially, helped the public understand the facts in a way that no dense legal report could. Similar hearings with Mueller, former White House counsel Donald McGahn and other key witnesses could do the same today.

During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee also began a formal impeachment inquiry that was led by John Doar, a widely respected former Justice Department official and hero of the civil rights struggle. He was determined to run a process that the public and history would judge as fair and thorough, no matter the outcome. If today’s House proceeds to an impeachment inquiry, I hope it will find someone as distinguished and principled as Doar to lead it.

Third, Congress can’t forget that the issue today is not just the president’s possible obstruction of justice — it’s also our national security. After 9/11, Congress established an independent, bipartisan commission to recommend steps that would help guard against future attacks. We need a similar commission today to help protect our elections. This is necessary because the president of the United States has proved himself unwilling to defend our nation from a clear and present danger. It was just reported that Trump’s recently departed secretary of homeland security tried to prioritize election security because of concerns about continued interference in 2020 and was told by the acting White House chief of staff not to bring it up in front of the president. This is the latest example of an administration that refuses to take even the most minimal, common-sense steps to prevent future attacks and counter ongoing threats to our nation.

Fourth, while House Democrats pursue these efforts, they also should stay focused on the sensible agenda that voters demanded in the midterms, from protecting health care to investing in infrastructure. During Watergate, Congress passed major legislation such as the War Powers Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1973. For today’s Democrats, it’s not only possible to move forward on multiple fronts at the same time, it’s essential. The House has already passed sweeping reforms that would strengthen voting rights and crack down on corruption, and now is the time for Democrats to keep their foot on the gas and put pressure on the do-nothing Senate. It’s critical to remind the American people that Democrats are in the solutions business and can walk and chew gum at the same time.

We have to get this right. The Mueller report isn’t just a reckoning about our recent history; it’s also a warning about the future. Unless checked, the Russians will interfere again in 2020, and possibly other adversaries, such as China or North Korea, will as well. This is an urgent threat. Nobody but Americans should be able to decide America’s future. And, unless he’s held accountable, the president may show even more disregard for the laws of the land and the obligations of his office. He will likely redouble his efforts to advance Putin’s agenda, including rolling back sanctions, weakening NATO and undermining the European Union.

Of all the lessons from our history, the one that’s most important may be that each of us has a vital role to play as citizens. A crime was committed against all Americans, and all Americans should demand action and accountability. Our founders envisioned the danger we face today and designed a system to meet it. Now it’s up to us to prove the wisdom of our Constitution, the resilience of our democracy and the strength of our nation.

This week, DDT said, “I’m the most transparent president in history” while he objects to all subpoenas about his taxes and financial affairs, vetting for security clearances, testimony for the Mueller investigation, and holds secret meetings.

George Conway, husband of top White House official Kellyanne Conway, said about Clinton’s op-ed: “I’m with her.” So am I.

April 15, 2019

Tax Day: ‘Cuts,’ Returns

Today is the deadline for paying 2018 taxes, and the amount of taxes that people pay has consumed conversation for over a year, ever since DDT and other Republicans gave the wealthy and big business a huge tax break that cost the United States $1.5 trillion. When Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) delivered his rally speeches, he promised that people would get an additional $4,000, but over 80 percent of taxpayers didn’t get this generous bonus. Instead 10,260,263 paid more taxes last year after DDT’s 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, and raises for most people were under $1,000. The law eliminated personal and dependent exemptions, caps on state and local deductions, employee business expenses deductions, etc. The cap of $10,000 on state and local tax deductions was onerous for many people, especially those who have lived in their home for a long time or have high state income tax, although DDT claimed that only the wealthy were hurt.

Researchers found that “half the tax cuts went to the richest five percent, with about a quarter going to the richest one percent. Those among the top five percent got bigger tax cuts not just in dollar terms but even when measured as a share of their total income.” Households making between $500,000 and $1 million had their after-tax income rise by an average of 5.2 percent. Households making less than $50,000 experience only a 0.6 percent increase. In even greater income inequality, W-2 wages fell 2.0 percent in 2018. Bonuses fell $0.22 for 2018, and the average bonus for 2018 was just $0.01 higher than in 2017. Most bonuses came from recruiting because of low unemployment instead of production from company tax cuts.

Big benefits went to Fortune 500 companies: at least 60 profitable corporations will pay nothing—some of them getting back extra money from the government. That number is double from previous years. Instead of paying $16.4 billion in taxes on their $79 billion of pretax income, the companies got rebates of $4.3 billion—a GOP gift of over $20 billion used to buy up stock and sock away in hidden offshore accounts. A few corporations with this advantage: Amazon, Chevron. Deere, Delta Air Lines, General Motors, Halliburton, Honeywell International, Molson Coors, and Prudential Financial. Another 51 companies with zero or minus taxes.

Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s CEO, bragged to shareholders that tax cuts for the bank add “$3.7 billion to net income.” But the increase “will be erased” so that shareholders won’t expect to get higher profits. The justification for the company’s spending $55 billion in stock buybacks? You have to buy back your own stock at “tangible book value.” And then at “two times tangible book value.” So buy back stock at any price, according to Dimonomics.

DDT surely gained millions—perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars—from DDT’s tax cuts for the wealth as did people he chose for his officials. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testified in support of $6.7 billion in education cuts at a congressional hearing, but she saved at least $10 million in taxes for 2018. Amway, her family’s company structured as an S-corporation, dropped its taxes from 39.6 percent to 29.6 percent in what Republicans called a small business cut. The education cut comes from the tax cuts’ failure to continue revenue for the government; instead revenue is plummeting. DeVos’ $10 million in taxes would have supported work-study funding for 5,600 students, Nevada’s entire share of the 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program, or funding for Full Service Community Schools academic and social services at schools in 20 communities—programs that DeVos wants to eliminate because of no revenue. DDT wants to make his tax cuts for the wealthy permanent with a conservative addition to the deficit of $1 trillion over a decade.

In their effort to convince people that they are paying lower taxes, Republicans have decided to make the withholding form so complicated that they can just say that people aren’t being ripped off. Past forms asked for the number of allowances based on exemptions. The new form requires annual dollar amounts for nonwage income, such as interest and dividends; itemized and other deductions; income tax credits expected for the tax year; and total annual taxable wages for all lower-paying jobs in the household for people with multiple jobs. The new form references 12 IRS publications for its completion and looks like the 1040 for final taxes instead of a simple W-4. The former year’s 1099, pay stubs, or 1040 returns are necessary for making the withholding calculations.

People are required to tell the “primary” employee about all their other income as well as that of their family and will probably need training to fill it out. Productivity will shrink and privacy goes out the window. And states may also require a new withholding form instead of the current W-4. Remember when Republicans said that people could fill out their tax return information on a postcard? It’s not happening.

Polling indicates that only 17 percent of people think that they got any tax cut even if they did. This perception comes from most taxpayers getting only a small cut. Only one-third of people approve of the legislation that DDT saw as his signature legislative achievement. Economic growth, a talking point around tax cuts, is slightly worse than in 2015, and job growth has slowed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said about the tax cut when it was passed:

“If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.”

The 77-year-old man is up for re-election next year. He may have the chance for “another line of work.”

Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)’s tax reform proposal, “Real Corporate Profits Tax,” might force a modicum of honesty on huge corporations. She recommends that companies reporting more than $100 million in worldwide profits pay seven percent on every dollar above the first $100 million claimed in profits to their investors. After CEO’s like Dimon brag about their tremendous profits, companies currently convince the IRS that they make no profits and thus pay no taxes. J.P. Morgan made over $131 billion in 2018 but paid less than $10 million in taxes. Warren maintains that raising the corporate tax rate does no good because the tax code is “so littered” with loopholes. She estimates that charging 1,200 companies subject to this tax would give “smaller” businesses “a fighting chance.” Companies paying no taxes would pay some taxes—Amazon would pay $698 million in taxes and Occidental Petroleum, $280 million. Last year, Amazon got a tax refund of $129 million plus paying no taxes.

For people who complain about costs of Social Security and healthcare, consider another destination for tax money. Of every dollar in taxes, 24 cents go to the military. Of those 24 cents, only 5 cents go to our troops while 12 cents go to corporate military contractors. The average taxpayer gave $1,704 to Pentagon contractors last year but only $683 for military pay, housing, and other benefits except $833 to military health care. The average U.S. taxpayer gave $225 to Lockheed’s executives and shareholders. Its CEO Marillyn Hewson got over $20 million for 2017, but the top pay for a four-star general or admiral is $189,600. The lowest-rank enlisted soldiers make just $20,172. Boeing got $100 from the average taxpayer, the same amount as all of education received.

And a shout out to DDT’s tax returns. Writing that concerns from Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin “lack merit,” House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard E. Neal (D-MA) has given IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig a firm deadline of April 23 to turn over six years of DDT’s tax returns. Two days later, DDT’s personal lawyer wrote the Treasury Department to stop the tax returns from being handed over to House Democrats.

DDT’s tax preparer Mazars USA told House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it would turn over ten years of DDT’s tax returns if the company received a subpoena. In an attempt to hide the returns, DDT’s lawyers have threatened the firm with legal action if it follows the law. The letter accused Cummings of wanting the returns only for political reasons, basically accusing a member of Congress of being a liar.  calling it a politically motivated scheme to take down the president. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC), members of the Oversight Committee, also accused Democrats of requesting DDT tax returns “solely to embarrass President Trump.”

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders passed along the DDT party line of smears and threats about Democrats requesting DDT’s his tax returns when she claimed that Democrats aren’t “smart enough” to look through his returns and that they are on a “dangerous, dangerous road.” DDT was tried twice for civil tax fraud, criticized by judges in both cases, and faced his own tax lawyer testifying against him.

Protesters brought an inflatable figure to the steps of the IRS when they asked for DDT to release his tax returns. The group uses the figure because DDT is “too chicken” to release his tax returns. The first “chicken bearing a resemblance to DDT was 23 feet tall and complete with golden hair pompadour and preening gestures. It arrived at a Chinese mall less than a month before DDT’s inauguration in preparation for the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Questions: If there is nothing wrong with DDT’s tax returns, why would he be embarrassed? If there is something wrong, why isn’t a look at them not warranted?

 

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