Monday Reads: Trump’s Disastrous Records as a President, a Citizen, and a Business Owner

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Tightrope Walk, 1908-10 Neue Galerie New York

Good Day Sky Dancers!

By now it is abundantly clear that the Trumpist Regime makes the Nixon years look like a peaceful and crimefree cakewalk and the Hoover years a time of great economic growth.  We’ve got lots of news today to both cry about and reveal as good news.   The Sunlight is shining!

Lindsay Graham may be about to be replaced. He’s been drug down by Trump and this rush to appoint a SCOTUS justice during a national election.  We’ve finally got Trump’s taxes and they are everything we thought they’d be.  He’s basically been broke a very long time and is living off credit from countries that are the true shitholes because they are your basic thugocracies. Today, it’s being argued he’s a definite threat to US National Security because he’s just about as broke as you can get and desperate to keep his false front.  His tax revelations may also put Ivanka in the slammer.

How’s that for a little bit of karma?  I’m going to truly enjoy delineating each and every one of the portraits of the disaster that is the Trumpist Businesses and Regime.  Yes, it’s a an all out circus!  Come join in the fun!

Otto Dix, Zirkus (Circus), 1922

Let’s start with the New York Times‘ reveal with its tales of tax fraud and business busts of the last 15 years.  This is a good summary by 18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records.  Times reporters have obtained decades of tax information the president has hidden from public view. Here are some of the key findings.”

Among the key findings of The Times’s investigation:

  • Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined. In 2017, after he became president, his tax bill was only $750.

  • He has reduced his tax bill with questionable measures, including a $72.9 million tax refund that is the subject of an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

  • Many of his signature businesses, including his golf courses, report losing large amounts of money — losses that have helped him to lower his taxes.

  • The financial pressure on him is increasing as hundreds of millions of dollars in loans he personally guaranteed are soon coming due.

  • Even while declaring losses, he has managed to enjoy a lavish lifestyle by taking tax deductions on what most people would consider personal expenses, including residences, aircraft and $70,000 in hairstyling for television.

  • Ivanka Trump, while working as an employee of the Trump Organization, appears to have received “consulting fees” that also helped reduce the family’s tax bill.

  • As president, he has received more money from foreign sources and U.S. interest groups than previously known. The records do not reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.

George Grosz, The Rabble Rouser, 1928.

From Timothy O’Brien at Bloomberg News: “Trump’s Taxes Show He’s a National Security Threat. What trade-offs would a president with this level of indebtedness be willing to make to save face?”  My guess is mister O’Brien is happy as a clam to finally get his eyes on all of these.

Due to his indebtedness, his reliance on income from overseas and his refusal to authentically distance himself from his hodgepodge of business, Trump represents a profound national security threat – a threat that will only escalate if he’s re-elected. The tax returns also show the extent to which Trump has repeatedly betrayed the interests of many of the average Americans who elected him and remain his most loyal supporters.

I have some history with Trump and his taxes. Trump sued me for libel in 2006 for a biography I wrote, “TrumpNation,” claiming the book misrepresented his track record as a businessman and lowballed the size of his fortune. He lost the suit in 2011. During the litigation, Trump resisted releasing his tax returns and other financial records. My lawyers got the returns, and while I can’t disclose specifics of what I saw, I imagine that Trump has always refused to release them because they would reveal how robust his businesses and finances actually are and shine a light on some of his foreign sources of income. The Times has now solved that problem for us.

According to the Times, Trump has about $421 million in debts which he has personally guaranteed and which are coming due over the next several years. This is consistent with earlier reporting about how much debt he carries, a chunk of which could be gleaned from the personal financial disclosures he is required to file with the federal government. But Trump’s overall indebtedness is greater than the Times tally, I believe.

Russ Choma reported in Mother Jones last summer that Trump’s debts were nearly $500 million and would come due in relatively short order, pressuring the president’s finances. But Trump’s debts are even bigger than that, and he’s worked hard to keep them hidden for decades. Dan Alexander, a senior editor at Forbes, has been covering Trump’s business interests since 2016 and has a new book out about the president’s financial conflicts of interest, “White House Inc.” Alexander, in a helpful tally he shared Sunday evening, estimates Trump’s total indebtedness to be about $1.1 billion. Now that’s more like it.

La Malady d’Amour 1916, George Grosz

From Jason Easley:  “Ivanka Trump Could Be Going Down Thanks To Her Dad’s Tax Fraud”.

The “consultants” are not identified in the tax records. But evidence of this arrangement was gleaned by comparing the confidential tax records to the financial disclosures Ivanka Trump filed when she joined the White House staff in 2017. Ms. Trump reported receiving payments from a consulting company she co-owned, totaling $747,622, that exactly matched consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for hotel projects in Vancouver and Hawaii.

Ms. Trump had been an executive officer of the Trump companies that received profits from and paid the consulting fees for both projects — meaning she appears to have been treated as a consultant on the same hotel deals that she helped manage as part of her job at her father’s business.

Fake consulting deals with members of a company that is also managing the same project are a big red flag to the IRS. Trump hid income by listing his own daughter a consultant on projects that she was managing. In other words, Ivanka Trump and her father were cheating the United States government, and the American people to hide income and avoid paying taxes.

Ernest Ludwig Kirchner, Couple in a Room, 1912

This is from Forbes and I must say that Lindsey and his sullen little face fit right in with our art today!

New polls released Sunday show Sen. Lindsey Graham’s reelection bid deeply threatened by Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison as the former gears up for what promises to be a brutal partisan battle over the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett.

KEY FACTS
    • In an internal poll of 608 likely South Carolina voters conducted by Harvard University fellow Cornell Belcher for the Harrison campaign, Graham trails Harrison by 2 points, 43% to 45%.
    • Meanwhile, a CBS news/YouGov poll of likely voters has Graham leading by 1 point, with 45% to Harrison’s 44%.
    • Both Graham and President Trump have shown signs of unique weakness in the Palmetto State, which typically elects Republicans by double digit margins; Graham led by 1 point in a Morning Consult poll released last week, while Trump led by 6.
    • Driving Harrison’s lead in the internal poll is a poor approval rating for Graham, with 55% of voters saying they disapprove of the job he is doing and 58% saying it’s time to elect someone new, compared to 32% who say Graham deserves re-election.

 

 

 

So, we’re not quite done yet!

Otto Dix
Marseille, 1922

This is by far something that might get through to a few undecides from USA Today: “Trump wants to run on his record. We hope he does. It’s been a disaster for America. Trump’s historically, mind-bogglingly bad record is on the ballot. He has destroyed lives and livelihoods, weakened America and risked our democracy. ‘This is an op ed from David Rothkopf and Bernard L. Schwartz.

At some point during the debates, perhaps more than once, Donald Trump will say yet again that he has accomplished more in his first term than any prior president. Despite his penchant for lying, it is hard to deny that among all our presidents, his record does stand out — just not in the way he wants you to think it does.

Trump has presided over the worst U.S. public health catastrophe in more than a century. His leadership failures during that crisis — from lying to suppressing data to promoting quack cures to endangering his own supporters in mass gatherings without masks or social distancing — have led to nearly 205,000 COVID deaths. That’s many more per capita than other developed nations, in some cases more than double their toll.

Trump’s mishandling of the COVID pandemic helped produce the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression — including an unemployment rate of  nearly 15% in AprilSome estimates suggest that over 40 million Americans lost their jobs as a result of the crisis. Only a fraction of those jobs have returned. Some will never return.

Economists predict that the unemployment rate through the end of the year, even with recent improvement, could average about 10%, roughly the same as during the worst of the Great Recession a decade ago. In fact, as a recent advertisement for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has made clear, Trump has the worst job creation record of any president in our modern history.

The gross domestic product contraction of 31.7% in the second quarter of this year, on an annualized basis, is by far the largest recorded in U.S. history. According to economists tracked by Bloomberg, the annualized growth rate under Trump’s first four years under a reasonable projection for the remainder of his term is likely to be 0.6%. That’s the worst since Herbert Hoover, about a quarter of the growth level under Barack Obama, and just about a seventh the average growth rate during Bill Clinton’s eight years in office.

As a result of the crisis, today 1 in 5 mothers of children under 12 reported that their children were not getting enough to eat.

“Man in the Zoo”  George Grosz, 1927
Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 40 in 1966 and featured in Issue 107 in 2004.

When we we’re growing up we were told to eat because there were starving children elsewhere who had no food.  Which countries now tell their children about the starving children in the United States?  The children separated from the parents and placed in cages?  The children whose education has been forever changed by having to be pulled from school for a long period of time then more than ceremoniously dumped back in to get sick or bring that illness home with them?

So, here’s the big NYT article with the Tax Forms Analysis in case you didn’t read it last night when it hit us all square in the face. “The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.”

Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.

He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.

As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.

I can only wonder how these square up with his internal records that should be on their way to the Southern District of New York unless Bill Barr can continue to block them and is willing to put his own freedom in jeopardy.  You can read more of that at BiPartisan Report “Trump Family Terrified After Southern District Of New York Strikes Again”.

A recent court ruling regarding Trump’s financial records and an investigation by the Southern District of New York into alleged tax and bank fraud determined that a criminal lawsuit can be brought against a sitting U.S. president no matter how busy he claims to be. For Trump rape accuser and author E. Jean Carroll, that decision may have an impact in her case against Trump for defamation.

 

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, The Street, 1913

This is from Greg Sargent and the link in the tweet.

Now that the New York Times has broken the explosive news that Donald Trump paid a scant $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 — and that Trump paid no income taxes at all in 10 out of the 15 preceding years — it provides an occasion to reconsider one of the biggest scams Trump has been perpetrating on the American people for years now.

I’m not talking about the scam that Trump was a good businessman, or that a good businessman will be a good managerial president, though both have long been central to Trump’s game, and this new exposé leaves that game in ruins.

Rather, I’m talking about a scam that’s more fundamental to the Trumpist mystique. It’s the idea that someone with extensive inside experience in milking a system rigged to enrich elites like him is uniquely positioned to either (in the more charitable telling) un-rig that system for the benefit of all or (in the less charitable one) unlock its spoils for supporters who place him in a position of power to do so.

The Times exposé strips the sheen off Trump’s image-making like so much imitation gold leaf. We learn that Trump evaded income taxes for many years largely through his epic financial losses. While Trump scooped in hundreds of millions of dollars off “The Apprentice,” he dumped those profits into a series of big-league money losers that he owned and ran himself.

All of this shows that Trump is simply “pouring more money into many businesses than he is taking out,” the Times observes, which “exposes the “hollowness” behind the “self-made-billionaire image.”

We know Trump is basically a carnival barker.  He’s not a billionaire. He was never self-made.  He has no business acumen.  He can only think of how to scam people by bringing them into the big top to see the freaks and greedos he surrounds himself with. This includes an assorted oddball group of christianist conmen.   How many of them will eventually go down for their crimes?  Will we ever seen the hardcore Trump believers leave the death cult alive?

Stay tuned as we start to fight to keep the Handmaiden’s Tale off the Supreme Court.  Welcome to the Christoban Caberet!  Where it’s all for sale as long as you make them feel superior to every one else!

And so I have to ask again, what is on your reading and blogging list today?

But, this also. How do you feel? Are we going to make it through this? We care about you! Please take care of yourselves and check in with us!

 

 

There’s only two types of people in the world
The ones that entertain, and the ones that observe
Well baby I’m a put-on-a-show kinda girl
Don’t like the backseat, gotta be first
I’m like the ringleader
I call the shots (call the shots)
I’m like a firecracker
I make it hot
When I put on a show

I feel the adrenaline moving through my veins
Spotlight on me and I’m ready to break
I’m like a performer, the dance floor is my stage
Better be ready, hope that you feel the same

All eyes on me in the center of the ring
Just like a circus
When I crack that whip, everybody gon’ trip
Just like a circus
Don’t stand there watching me, follow me
Show me what you can do
Everybody let go, we can make a dance floor
Just like a circus

There’s only two types of guys out there
Ones that can hang with me, and ones that are scared
So baby I hope that you came prepared
I run a tight ship so, beware
I’m like the ringleader
I call the shots (call the shots)
I’m like a firecracker
I make it hot
When I put on a show

I feel the adrenaline moving through my veins
Spotlight on me and I’m ready to break
I’m like a performer, the dance floor is my stage
Better be ready, hope that ya feel the same

All eyes on me in the center of the ring
Just like a circus
When I crack that whip, everybody gon’ trip
Just like a circus
Don’t stand there watching me, follow me
Show me what you can do
Everybody let go, we can make a dance floor
Just like a circus


Busting-the-Filibuster Friday

It’s been 2 Fridays since our Last Mueller Friday (March 22nd).

Where’s the damned report?

Every day we don’t see the report represents an obstruction of justice.  But then, that’s what Bill Barr was hired to do, right?   From The Guardian: Barr invited to meet DoJ officials on day he submitted memo critical of Mueller. Revealed: The attorney general, then a private lawyer, called the special counsel’s obstruction of justice inquiry into Trump ‘fatally misconceived’”

William Barr was invited to meet justice department officials last summer, on the same day he submitted an “unsolicited” memo that heavily criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into obstruction of justice by Donald Trump.

Barr, who was a private attorney at the time, met the officials for lunch three weeks later and was then nominated to serve as Trump’s attorney general about six months later.

The revelation about the meeting, which was arranged by Steve Engel, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, and which has not previously been publicly disclosed, raises new questions about whether the White House’s decision to hire Barr was influenced by private discussions he had about his legal views on Mueller’s investigation.

None of this surprises me. I’m sure the right. chair of the right committee–most likely oversight and Rep. Elijah Cummings–will get to the bottom of this.  Every appointment Trump makes to anything just drips of cronyism.

Today, a Federal Court of Appeals court shortened the time that a decision will be made by the judiciary.  This is via Politico and Josh Gerstein:  “Appeals court narrows path for disclosure of grand jury info in Mueller report. Court splits, 2-1, in a closely watched case that could affect the release of the special counsel’s review.”

A Federal appeals court on Friday tossed an obstacle in the way of grand jury information in special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report being released directly to the public, but the decision may not slow disclosure of that material to Congress.

The decision from a divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals did not directly address Mueller’s report, but involved a grand jury investigation more than six decades ago into the disappearance of a Columbia University professor and political activist, Jesús Galíndez.

In the new ruling, the panel majority concluded that federal district court judges lack the authority to order the release of typically secret grand jury material except in situations specially authorized in a federal court rule.

While there is no exception that covers cases of intense political or historical interest, courts have repeatedly held that they have “inherent authority” to make such disclosures in unusual cases.

However, the D.C. Circuit decision Friday sided with a long-standing Justice Department position that those rulings were mistaken and a formal change to the grand jury secrecy rule would be needed to give judges that power.

“We agree with the Government’s understanding of the Rule,” Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote, joined by Judge Greg Katsas. “The contrary reading … which would allow the district court to create such new exceptions as it thinks make good public policy — would render the detailed list of exceptions merely precatory and impermissibly enable the court to ‘circumvent’ or ‘disregard’ a Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure.”

The impact of the new decision in the current battle over disclosure of the Mueller report could be limited, however, because the Democrat-controlled House is already demanding the special counsel’s full submission including grand jury information.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee passed a resolution authorizing Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) to subpoena the full report and all supporting materials. Such a subpoena may be sufficient to give the House access to grand jury information under an existing exception covering material sought in connection with “judicial proceedings.”

I wanted to make sure we had a good look and discussion about the various ways that Mitch McConnell is changing the SOP of the Senate. To no one’s real surprise, the Senate did go Nuclear somewhat quietly on Wednesday on a 51-48 vote.  ABC and other media outlets covered it but not to the extent that it deserved.

The Senate has gone “nuclear,” voting 51-48 Wednesday afternoon to change its own rules and slash debate time for some nominees from 30 hours to two hours, paving the way to fast-track certain Trump picks. Republicans — led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — have long lamented what they have termed Democratic obstruction of the president’s nominations, particularly judicial nominations.

All Republicans vote for the rule change except Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Susan Collins, who voted with Democrats, and no Democrats voted with Republicans.

This is what Senator Elizabeth Warren has to say about that even though she her last vote did not reflect this discussion.  It’s something to thing on.  I really appreciate Warren’s bringing the beef to the hamburger.  It’s the women that are discussing actual policy and it’s time they all get some air time and ink.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is expected to issue the strongest indictment of the Senate filibuster of her campaign for president thus far during a speech at the National Action Network convention on Friday morning.

“Last year the Senate passed a bill that would make lynching a federal crime,” Warren will say, according to prepared remarks viewed by The Daily Beast. “Last year. In 2018. Do you know when the first bill to make lynching a federal crime was introduced? 1918. One hundred years ago. And it nearly became the law back then. It passed the House in 1922. But it got killed in the Senate—by a filibuster. And then it got killed again. And again. And again. More than 200 times. An entire century of obstruction because a small group of racists stopped the entire nation from doing what was right.”
Warren goes on to say that the filibuster has been used in recent years “by the far right as a tool to block progress on everything.”

“I’ve only served one term in the Senate—but I’ve seen what’s happening,” she says, according to the remarks. “We all saw what they did to President Obama. I’ve watched Republicans abuse the rules when they’re out of power, then turn around and blow off the rules when they’re in power.”

Democrats running for president in 2020 have been debating Senate rules for months, as activists push for a change that would not necessitate a 60-vote supermajority to pass sought-after legislation like Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, both of which have been endorsed by a large share of the Democratic candidates currently running. But many of the same candidates, including the senators in the race, have been resistant to institutional changes. The one candidate who has affirmatively campaigned on its elimination in order to address climate change is Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. Many others, like Warren before Friday, had said they’d consider it, and she previously said “all the options are on the table.”

Schumer believes other wise. This is from CSPAN. “Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell debate the GOP’s decision to make a change to rules reducing the length of post-Cloture debate time of federal district court judges and sub-Cabinet nominations from 30 hours to two hours. ” It happened on April 3rd, the day of the vote.

From Vox and Li Zhou: “Senate Republicans have officially gone “nuclear” in order to confirm more Trump judges.
It’s a win for Republicans in the short term, but Democrats could also capitalize on the change in the future.”

Senate Republicans have officially gone nuclear again this week.

Once more, they’ve changed Senate rules so they can confirm President Donald Trump’s nominees more expeditiously — a string of actions first kicked off by Democratic leader Harry Reid in 2013. It marks the third time in less than a decade that the Senate majority has used the so-called “nuclear option” — a term used for parliamentary procedure that sets a new precedent with only a simple majority of lawmaker votes.

This time, Republicans have amended Senate rules in order to further limit the amount of time lower-level nominees could be debated on the floor. Previously, if lawmakers voted to limit debate on a nominee, that back-and-forth would still be able to continue for 30 hours. Practically speaking, because there is only so much time the Senate is in session, this meant that there were a finite number of nominees that Republicans could get through — and that’s something they wanted to change.

Republicans argued that this rules change is necessary because Democrats have gone out of their way to slow-walk consideration of Trump’s nominees. Democrats, meanwhile, say that Republicans have gutted other processes, like “blue slips,” that would enable them to otherwise vocalize their concern with different nominees.

“Senate Democrats spent the first two years of the Trump administration dragging out the confirmation process to not only deny the president his team, but also to waste hours of floor time that should have been spent focusing on the American people’s priorities,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) said in a statement. “This has been nothing more than obstruction for the sake of obstruction and it is outrageous.”

That assertion, however, is laughable to many Democrats, who have noted that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s supposed outrage over the way Democrats have blocked Republican nominees is hypocritical, given the lengths he went to in order to prevent President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from even getting considered for a Supreme Court seat.

Nancy Pelosi threw some serious shade at a reporter who evidently wasn’t aware that there is a law that says the IRS will hand over tax returns of whoever certain chairs of congress request.

Donald Trump is doing his usual hold it up routine. “All the way to the Supreme Court, Alice!!!”

And, I’m giving the last word today to my “I’m just a country lawyer” Senator who just can’t seem to keep the folksy routine sounding sane.

With that, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?