I obviously have a great many things to say, but I’m likely not publishing anything until after the weekend. Thank you for your patience.
I’ll obviously have thoughts regardless of what ends up happening, but Donald Trump just announced to the world that he has won the election and will be asking the Supreme Court to stop the tallying of votes.
The threat that is Donald Trump has never endangered the nation on this level before.
After four grueling years of chaos, we are nearly there – the beginning of the end. As journalists everywhere have tried to prepare people for NOT knowing who won on election night, the president has insisted the winner must be declared Tuesday night and even said that judges need to stop states from counting past election night. The latter is blatantly illegal and almost nothing has been discussed about it because the bar for this president’s criminality is so incredibly low.
Aside from the strictly illegal nature of the president’s comment, the problem is that states NEVER certify their results on election night. Media outlets predict how states will certify their votes. President Trump does not understand the difference. With the increased number of mailed ballots and early voting prompted by the pandemic, an unprecedented number of people will have voted before election day. Some states count these votes early. Some states do not count them until after election day.
If you want to skip to the conclusion, there are too many factors at play to know if we can declare a winner on election night. But I think it’s more likely than not. The prevailing wisdom that mail-in ballots will cause a lag doesn’t hold up when you look at the states in question.
Everything here is sourced either from my personal knowledge or two New York Times articles: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/13/us/politics/when-votes-counted.html and https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/27/upshot/election-results-timing.html
I’m going to look at 538 and what they say are the 9 closest races. These are the ones to watch on Tuesday: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Combined, these states are worth a whopping 153 electoral votes.
Arizona started counting their early ballots on Oct. 7. We should have a good idea who wins on election night.
Florida, despite the reputation from the 2000 election, counts their early ballots as received. Unless Florida is extremely close, we will probably know who won on election night. If Biden wins Florida, it’s over. Trump will not win the election without it.
Georgia processes early ballots when received. We’ll know what happens in Georgia on election night.
Iowa processes early ballots beginning on Halloween. It’s likely we know what happens here but that might be delayed if their initial count takes a few days.
Nevada counts their ballots as received. We’re going to know on election night.
North Carolina doesn’t tally early ballots until election night but has them processed and ready to go. It’s likely we know on election night.
Ohio is an odd duck. They will release numbers for early ballots and everything they can count on election day. After that however they provide NO updates until November 28th. This is another state Trump must win. If Biden takes it, it’s unlikely Trump has a path to re-election. The state is a coin flip according to 538 right now. A nightmare scenario is neither candidate having the votes to win without Ohio and Ohio being too close to call until they certify. That means waiting almost FOUR WEEKS to find out who won. While I don’t think this will happen, it’s a scenario people should be ready for.
Pennsylvania CANNOT count early votes until the polls close. Their secretary of state expects most of their votes will be counted on election night, but this is another possible problem area.
Texas processes early ballots as they arrive but does not begin tabulating them until this weekend. I think it’s likely we know Texas on election night but this is another state which could take a while if the race is close. Needless to say, Trump cannot lose Texas. In fact if every state remains the same as it did in 2016 but Texas flips, Biden wins.
I want to note there are states which we KNOW will take weeks to finish counting – Alaska and California for example. They aren’t going to figure into the presidential race, but there will absolutely be House races we don’t know the outcome of for several weeks. This is completely normal and happens every election year. We are more likely to know who holds the Senate, but it may take a few weeks to know the specific number of Senators from each party.
In summation, I think it’s most likely we know if Biden or Trump wins late on Tuesday. If not then, most likely some time the following day. There are plausible nightmare scenarios where we don’t know for weeks. In 2000 it wasn’t until mid-December we knew who the next president would be. While not quite normal, there is no particular harm in having to wait for the results, though Trump is sure to claim victory in any such close scenario.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Madison Cawthorn is a Republican House candidate who spoke at their convention. He’s published an attack website that included a criticism of a reporter who “quit his academia job in Boston to work for non-white males, like Cory Booker, who aims to ruin white males running for office.” The website has since been changed. At the time of publication, Cawthorn had not offered a statement.
The New York Post piece about Hunter Biden’s laptop was written by a journalist who refused to attach his name to the story because he doubted the veracity. One of the women whose name was attached had never had an article published in the paper before and previously worked for Sean Hannity. The Republicans are thinking this story is the “Clinton’s emails” of 2020 but it does not appear that anyone cares in the least. Among many other stories, Giuliani is claiming the hard drive which he’s had a copy of for quite some time has child pornography on it – a fact he has conveniently not mentioned until two weeks before the election. Right-wing media has alleged the laptop is now part of a money laundering investigation. They’re likely correct. What they’re leaving out is that Giuliani is the one under investigation. DNI Ratcliffe announced the laptop is definitely not part of any foreign disinformation campaign. The FBI contradicted him and have not reached that conclusion.
The Trump campaign accused Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer of promoting the assassination of president Trump because she displayed a sign saying “86 45.” 86 does not mean to kill. Both Trump and the campaign have been viciously attacking Whitmer just days after a right wing terrorist group was arrested for planning to kidnap her.
The Department of Justice is continuing to argue in court that when President Trump said “she’s not my type” of E. Jean Carroll, who is accusing him of rape, that he was acting in his official capacity as president and therefore should be defended by government lawyers, not his own personal lawyers. The goal here is to claim immunity to have the lawsuit tossed. Needless to say, denying an accusation of rape has nothing at all to do with the job of the president.
The New York Times has dropped another Trump tax story. Despite his claims of being tough on China, the president used a shell corporation to hide a Chinese bank account. His companies have been pursuing licensing deals in China which have not been previously disclosed.
The White House is looking into cutting off funding for all manner of government services which it has deemed “anarchist” cities. There are zero cities in the US experiencing any form of anarchy. What the president wants is for police to be more brutal with and arrest more protesters.
Lawyers have been unable to find the parents of 545 children who were separated at the border due to Trump’s kidnapping policy. The program was implemented without any sort of tracking system and parents were deported with absolutely no record of how to get in touch with them. Unable to complete the tasks themselves, Department of Justice lawyers eventually said that ACLU lawyers, along with other groups, should track down the parents themselves – which they’ve done. This should be one of the biggest stories in US political history.
Trump is considering firing FBI director Christopher Wray because Wray will not publicly announce that Hunter and Joe Biden are under investigation. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the exact same demand Trump made of the Ukrainian government which is what he was impeached over.
DNI Ratcliffe is trying to declassify a document, originated by House Republicans, that concludes Russia did not interfere in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf. This directly contradicts the finding of every US intelligence agency, the very groups Ratcliffe oversees. The Director of National Intelligence is not supposed to be a partisan position but Ratcliffe has been taking actions solely to benefit the Trump campaign.
Rudy Giuliani was taken in during a stunt for Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Borat movie. Giuliani has correctly pointed out that he was not taken in by Cohen himself and that he recognized him interrupting an interview. The interview itself was the setup. He ended up alone in a hotel room with an actress he thought was a Russian journalist. This is the president’s personal lawyer, placed in a compromising position by two actors. He is a massive national security threat from foreign agencies who are far more skilled at spycraft than Borat.
Intelligence agencies last year warned the president that Rudy Giuliani was being targeted by Russian intelligence to be a conduit for the election disinformation. This week the New York Post published information they received from Giuliani which is now being investigated by the FBI under suspicion that Russia was behind the story. The story is extremely fishy and even if the source of the information is accurate, what The Post published was stolen data from Hunter Biden. The data includes an email about a meeting between Joe Biden and a Ukrainian businessman set up by Hunter Biden. The Biden campaign says this never happened, which is verifiable. The Post also published a private text conversation, again stolen, between Hunter and his father while Hunter was in rehab. Hunter Biden was worried about the mistakes he’d made in his life harming his father’s political career. Joe Biden responded that the only thing that mattered to him was his son’s recovery and that he loved him. The Republican Party thinks that sentiment is damaging to Joe Biden. The stolen files included pictures of Hunter Biden using drugs. Republican Congressman Paul Gosar tweeted out one of the pictures, mocking Hunter Biden for using drugs, just as Donald Trump attacked him during the first debate. This is the current state of the Republican Party. They are devoid of empathy to a point of thinking attacking a candidate’s son for a drug addiction is a good political strategy. With the US nearing 220,000 Covid-19 deaths, the Trump campaign thinks attacking Hunter Biden is a good closing argument.
Speaking of Giuliani, the president’s lawyer, the “cybersecurity expert” ended a Zoom meeting but left the live feed running. He then proceeded to mock Asians. Yes, really.
The White House has cited a petition calling on the government to fully open businesses to develop herd immunity. The petition includes well known medical experts such as Dr. Person Fakename, I.P. Freely, and Dr. Johnny Bananas. Dr. Fakename could not be reached for comment.
As he publicly downplayed the severity of the pandemic, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow was privately telling investment groups that the pandemic would be catastrophic, prompting his friends to sell off their investments.
President Trump is again bragging that federal law enforcement agents killed a suspect instead of arresting him. The officers appear to have lied about the suspect pulling a gun (he was armed but the weapon was in a pocket after he was shot) and witnesses now say they did not even announce themselves as law enforcement. The president of the United States is praising extrajudicial killings by police.
Trump extended his best wishes to the Kamala Harris staffer who contracted Covid-19 but added that was more than Harris did for him. He’s lying. Harris publicly wished him well.
Multiple times this week, president Trump attacked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer after the FBI arrested a Trump-supporting terrorist group planning on kidnapping and executing her. He has called her a dictator, said that all of Michigan’s Covid-19 restrictions needed to be removed, and twice tonight led his rally crowd in a chant of “lock her up.” The president, who often encourages violence by his supporters, is openly siding with a terrorist group who planned to take out a governor because of Covid-19 safety measures.
Twice this week the president tweeted out material from The Babylon Bee, a satirical website, thinking it was real. One of the obviously fake articles was about Twitter shutting down to avoid spreading the New York Post article. It included a bit about Twitter programmers being unable to lift a hammer and therefore programming a robot to attack their own servers. The president thought this was a true story.
Trump said on Twitter that he had declassified all information relating to the Russia investigation. He’s done this in the past which resulted in reporters requesting said information. As in the past, the Department of Justice is arguing in court that the president saying he has declassified the information does not mean that the president has declassified the information. Fed up with Trump’s lies, the judge has ordered the Department of Justice to consult with the president about whether he actually issued such an order and return to court with the response.
Similar to what happened to Dr. Fauci recently, the Trump campaign is using an ad featuring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley without his permission and in uniform, which is a violation of the UCMJ. And like the ad featuring Fauci, the Trump campaign is not taking down the ad featuring Milley.
We’re going to play hypothetical in response to a bad faith argument the Republicans are circulating.
You are a young conservative activist and with a group of like-minded friends, you start a small website for sharing news about politics and religion.
As your site grows, you add in a message forum for your regular readers to discuss the topics you curate on the front page.
Your forums become very popular and you develop an app that directs to the forums.
Your site gets some media attention and with some savvy marketing, you grow it into a large site on the Internet.
You update your app and allow users to share pertinent articles and forum threads with each other.
Eventually, this morphs into a stream of updates.
While anyone can participate on your site/app, you are still focused on discussing topics of interest to conservatives and Christians.
You eventually write an algorithm that highlights discussions and articles that are focused on these areas.
Has your site broken any laws?
Has your site broken any ethical norms?
Has your site, by targeting these specific topics, done anything that warrants a Congressional hearing?
OF COURSE IT HASN’T!
You may post whatever content you’d like on your site. You may encourage others to post any content you’d like on your site. You may restrict others from posting any content you’d like on your site. It’s your site and if you want it to contain only posts about Christianity, that’s perfectly fine and no one would say a peep.
Republicans are up in arms, as they have been for some time, about Facebook and Twitter’s editorial decisions. (This is despite the fact that conservative pages DOMINATE Facebook’s engagement metrics). According to them, Twitter and Facebook must provide some sort of partisan balance acceptable to Republicans else they have done something unethical, perhaps illegal.
This is ridiculous horseshit.
Like our hypothetical above, Facebook and Twitter may promote any content they want. They can restrict any content they want. People are free to disagree with those decisions and to express that disagreement. But ultimately, the decisions of what content these companies choose to promote or not promote is SOLELY up to them and requires not one pen stroke of government intervention.
But that isn’t good enough for the “party of limited government” so right now, in the middle of a pandemic which has killed over 215,000 Americans, they are clamoring for legal action taken and hearings held regarding what people Tweet.
Don’t fall for it.
Yesterday the president twice tweeted out about a conspiracy theory from the right-wing depths of Twitter. This conspiracy claims that Iran was holding Osama bin Laden and the entire JPCOA (the Iran nuclear deal) was a cover for paying Iran to send bin Laden, or perhaps a body double, to Pakistan so that the Obama administration could then kill him and receive the credit for it. The originator of this conspiracy theory also says that Obama and Biden then arranged for the assassinations of every member of Seal Team Six who participated in the bin Laden raid. Trump has always been a conspiracy theorist. For a decade he insisted Obama was a Kenyan and that his investigative team had found very interesting things regarding his birth while they were in Hawaii. (He made this up.) He said global warming was invented by China to harm American businesses. And now he’s saying that Biden was involved in killing a Seal Team, several of whom are currently active on social media, in order to cover up a fake bin Laden raid. Donald Trump is completely disconnected from reality. Your Republican friends don’t care about this. They will vote for him anyway. Republican politicians di not care about this. They need his signature. The media has barely mentioned this. It’s simply baked in that Trump believes bullshit conspiracy theories and it’s treated as normal. It isn’t. It never has been. You want to support him? Then you should be able to defend the fact that he thinks Ted Cruz’s father helped kill JFK and that Biden ordered a Seal Team killed.
The New York Times published another financial bombshell. The short version – Trump has been doing political favors for his club members and those he does business with. The White House’s response to this story was that Eric and Donald Trump Jr. now run the company. This sort of corruption has been constant throughout this administration, beginning with the inauguration itself.
The Trump campaign is running an ad with quotes from Dr. Anthony Fauci make it appear Fauci was praising Trump’s handling of the pandemic. His quote was referencing other government officials. Fauci has never endorsed a candidate and does not want to appear to endorse one this year. He has asked the Trump campaign to stop using his words in the ad. The Trump campaign is refusing his request.
The Republican Party in California is setting up ballot dropboxes which appear to be official government ballot collection boxes. They are not. The state has determined this is illegal and sent a cease and desist letter to the Republicans. The party is ignoring the order and continuing to use them.
Former White House doctor, now Congressional candidate, Ronny Jackson did an event with Donald Trump where he declared that Joe Biden has some form of dementia. He’s previously said that Biden must be taking “memory enhancing” drugs to perform as well as he had.
The Department of Justice is suing former Melania Trump aid Stephanie Wolkoff for violating an NDA by publishing a book about Melania. Trump frequently uses NDAs for government employees which is absolutely illegal. Aside from classified information, a government employee has a first amendment right to reveal whatever information they’d like. They will lose this case, but it’s yet another example of Trump viewing the DoJ as his personal legal team.
Trump publicly declared that he had declassified all materials related to the Russia investigation. Reporters responded by requesting said information. The Department of Justice is arguing Trump saying he declassified the materials does not count as declassifying them. This has happened before. The DoJ argues that Trump’s tweets are official orders and that they are NOT official orders depending on which argument is more convenient for them.
The Justice Department’s investigation into what several Republicans called a massive scandal regarding the unmasking of names in intelligence reports has concluded that no one unmasked any names improperly. There have been several investigations into those who investigated Trump that the right has been banking on to justify Trump’s claims of a mass conspiracy against him. All of them so far have found nothing of the sort.
The Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to allow it to immediately end census collection efforts despite a large number of non-respondents.
The president went to Walter Reed in November of last year. They said it was for part of his routine physical which makes no sense at all as the entire physical can be completed at the White House. We’ve now learned that the doctors working on Trump had to first sign an NDA. Two doctors refused and were not allowed to interact with him. Unusual does not cover this. NDAs against government employees are not actually legal, but Trump frequently uses them anyway. The doctors who signed them could be released from them, but it would likely require a legal battle.
Despite dozens of people contracting Covid-19 in the White House, the president continues to mock people for wearing masks. Immediately after the vice-presidential debate, Mike Pence was photographed with his prep team, none of whom wore a mask.
Elliott Broidy was previously one of the GOP’s finance officers alongside convicted felon Michael Cohen and Steve Wynn, accused of sexual harassment and assault. Broidy was previously caught paying off a Playboy model to keep quiet about an affair via money transferred by Michael Cohen. Sound familiar? Broidy is now set to plead guilty to using his political ties to Trump to aid Malaysian and Chinese interests.
The president multiple times this week said that the treatment he received from Regeneron is a “cure” for Covid-19 and that he’ll be making it readily available for free to every American with help from the military. Every word of this is bullshit. Regeneron isn’t even the name of the treatment. It’s the name of the manufacturer. The treatment is still in clinical trials. Less than 10 people nationwide have received it outside of those trials. If the treatment did cure Covid-19 and there was a way to pay for it for everyone, the company is not capable of manufacturing anywhere near the needed doses.
After the Rose Garden event which likely spread Covid-19 to dozens of people, the president met with several gold star families – those who have lost someone to wartime military service. The president said he couldn’t cancel the event because so many of the families insist on hugging and kissing him, implying they may have been the source of his infection.
Several men were arrested in a plot to kidnap and assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer over the state’s Covid-19 restrictions. The White House response to the arrests was that Whitmer was sowing discord. President Trump attacked her for not being sufficiently grateful for the arrests then said she was doing a terrible job and needed to fully reopen the state – the exact same claims made by the terrorists. Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham said several times today the men looked like antifa members, not Trump supporters. This is a lie. Several of them posted frequently about Trump on social media and several attended the anti-lockdown protests including the one where armed men overtook the Michigan capitol. These men are Trump supporting terrorists.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is saying he may release more of Hillary Clinton’s emails which is sure to damage her chances of being elected president next month. Every unclassified email the State Department possesses is already freely available on the State Department website. Pompeo is aware of this but said that maybe they’ll find some more. Pompeo’s job is to represent the country in all of our foreign relations. Threatening to release Clinton’s emails in an effort to sway the election obviously has nothing to do with this.
Following the huge expose of Trump’s taxes, the New York Times has revealed a large loan Trump gave his 2016 campaign likely violated the law. One of Trump’s businesses deducted the cost of the loan which isn’t legal. It was also personally backed by one of his business partners which would legally count as a contribution which was never disclosed.
Adding to warnings from HHS and DHS officials, we’ve learned officials at the Department of Justice warned their superiors about the physical and psychological damage from a family separation policy. They were warned and went forward with them regardless.
The CDC wanted to issue a recommendation for everyone on public transportation to wear masks. Like so many other issues, their safety recommendations were overruled by the White House.
Despite having recently hosted an event responsible for spreading Covid-19 to dozens of people, the White House has invited TWO THOUSAND people to an event tomorrow.
Today I’m covering the stories you may have missed in the slurry of Covid-19 news but I want to address last week’s debate. The reaction I saw from independents and moderate conservatives was largely the same – this is awful and both candidates are awful.
Argumentum ad temperantiam. It’s one of the basic logical fallacies you learn when you study such things. There are several names and it’s related to several other fallacies, but essentially it’s the argument that when presented with two opposing ideas, the truth is in the middle of them. If two people argue the location of the US capital, with one person saying DC and another saying Los Angeles, surely the answer must be somewhere in the midwest. This tendency of us to average viewpoints is so strong it’s used in marketing – offer three options when you want to increase demand for the middle option. You will sell more than if you only offered that one option.
You see this everywhere in politics, especially in political journalism. It’s what leads to the “both parties are basically the same mindset.”
And it’s absolutely, demonstrably wrong.
Trump was at his most unhinged during the debate. He lied constantly. He delved into multiple conspiracy theories. He showed absolutely no understanding of the issues or even what a president does. He remains ignorant and incompetent, just as he has been his entire life. Biden made one factual error that I’ve seen, which was a trade statistic that was true in 2019. He had supported stances, which are fleshed out on his website. There was absolutely no comparison between the two. But our brains want to insist things are normal. So when they see Trump’s blathering insanity, we rationalize it by assuming both candidates are this way.
They are not. Trump is vile and cruel. Biden is one of the most empathetic candidates in history. Trump remains woefully unqualified for his office. Biden, like Clinton before him, was eminently qualified.
Enough with the “both sides” talk. You aren’t choosing between two sides of the same coin. You’re choosing between a monster and a good man.
News has nearly 24-7 been focused on Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis so here are some stories you may have missed over the last week:
The Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, who lied about his resume specifically regarding intelligence experience, is declassifying documents about Clinton and the Russia investigation. The argument here is that Hillary Clinton blamed Russia for hacking her and working with Trump which led to the entire Russia investigation. The source in one of the releases we’ve seen so far? Russian intelligence. Our own intelligence community rejected this obviously fake information as obviously fake information. But Republicans are running with it, saying there would have been no investigation were it not for Clinton’s scheming. It is not possible to understate how ridiculous this is. While I don’t think this will play any factor at all in the election, the Republican Party is spreading KNOWN Russia disinformation to attack Hillary Clinton four years after she lost the election. Vote accordingly.
The White House was pressuring the CDC to downplay the risks of sending children to school during the pandemic. There have been numerous stories confirming the White House has been interfering with the scientific conclusions of the CDC. Dr. William Foege, a previous CDC director, privately wrote current CDC Director Robert Redfield urging him to resign due to his lack of pushback against Trump’s anti-science views.
Former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale is allegedly cooperating with an investigation into the campaign’s finances. Parscale himself has been accused of embezzlement and domestic violence.
Federal law enforcement officers were directed to speak sympathetically of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of murdering two people at a protest.
Trump’s former National Security Adviser General McMaster has said the president is aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts to undermine the election.
Trump said he has declassified all of the documents related to the Russia investigation. He did the exact same thing two years ago. After the first declaration, journalists requested the documents which they have a legal right to. The Department of Justice argued that the president tweeting he had declassified a document did not mean that the president had declassified a document. Undoubtedly, that will happen again. When Trump says he has declassified these documents, he is lying.
A federal judge recently ordered that the census could not move their deadline for collecting data from October 31 to September 30. Response rates are still low, exacerbated by the pandemic. Commerce Secretary Ross wanted to end collection efforts at the end of this month, despite the fact that we know a large number of people have not yet responded. Today the Census Bureau announced they want to stop collecting on October 5. There is a technicality here the Commerce Department may be relying on in that the original order merely undid moving the deadline to September 30. The judge ordered the Commerce Department to explain what happened here and one government lawyer said there was no paper trail and the tweet announcing the change was the only thing written about the new policy. It’s unlikely the judge finds this acceptable, but watch this space.
The defense team for Michael Flynn submitted documents which were altered. The documents in question were memos from Peter Strzok and they had handwritten dates that were added and/or changed. (Strzok produced the original documents for comparison.) Flynn’s lawyers may not be the ones who changed the memos, but they were definitely altered by someone.
Twitter has added yet another disclaimer to one of the president’s tweets attacking mail-in voting. He said that mail-in ballots cannot accurately be counted. This is a lie. There are multiple states where mail-in ballots are the ONLY way to vote and they have been conducting their elections without issue for years. The primary source for attacking the integrity of the US election is the president.
CDC Director Redfield was overheard on the phone saying of White House coronavirus advisor Scott Atlas, “everything he says is false.” Redfield admitted to the statement. Dr. Atlas, who has zero experience in virology, epidemiology, or public health, has largely replaced Drs. Fauci and Birx at meetings and in public appearances of the task force. Atlas has pushed for removing Covid-19 restrictions and using herd immunity to stop the spread of the virus instead. Waiting for herd immunity will result in millions of deaths. Atlas has falsely claimed that children are not affected by the virus, among other lies.
The Trump campaign and its surrogates accused Hunter Biden of receiving $3.5 million from Yelena Baturina, the wife of former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov. Hunter Biden’s connection to the company is in dispute (a Biden lawyer said Hunter had nothing to do with the company’s founding) but regardless of that, there’s an issue that keeps coming up in the Trump smears of Hunter Biden. The COMPANY received $3.5 billion. Hunter Biden did not. When there isn’t a pandemic, I work for a large multi-billion dollar corporation. When that company receives money, an entire zero dollars of that goes to me personally. (I’ve been looking into changing that but so far the board has not expressed interest.) As every accusation Donald Trump makes about someone turns out to actually be something he’s done, Trump tried to develop properties in Moscow working with Luzhkov in the 90s. This is yet another business relationship Trump was pursuing in Russia without disclosing anything about it.
Channel 4 News in the UK (a publicly owned station separate from the BBC) got ahold of a database from the 2016 Trump campaign. 3.5 million African American voters are labeled as “deterrence.” (The label was not solely used for black voters.) Brad Parscale, who ran the 2016 digital operation, testified before congress that the campaign never targeted African Americans. That appears to have been a lie. Ads ran to discourage black voter turnout.
The New York Times has received several years’ worth of the president’s taxes. I want to note that almost immediately, right wingers began circulating that publishing this data or even possessing it is a violation of the Privacy Act of 1974. This isn’t true. The act criminalizing releasing certain private records. That only applies to a government agent releasing the records. The article does not identify the source – it may be any number of people from outside the government. Even if this did come directly from someone at the IRS, that employee committed a crime, but the New York Times has not. Issues like this have long since been settled law thanks to The Pentagon Papers case.
As to the meat of the article, it reveals several details about the president’s financial situation:
- In 11 out of 18 years, the president paid zero federal income tax. In two of those years, he paid $750. Trump in the past has attacked Romney and Obama for their effective tax rates which we now know are orders of magnitude higher than Trump’s.
- Nearly every business the president owns is losing a gargantuan amount of money.
- The president is receiving a large amount of money from foreign sources, including foreign governments.
- He has roughly half a billion in personally backed loans coming due in the next two years. His income stream does not support any ability to pay these loans. Every commercial bank but Deutsche Bank has refused to loan Trump any money for some time now. The commercial division at DB flagged him as a risk and stopped giving him loans. The personal division at DB flagged him as a risk but continued to loan him money, despite his default on a $600+ million loan from the bank. We do not currently know why DB overrode their own internal process saying not to loan money to Trump. The bank has recently been found guilty of laundering $20 billion for sanctioned Russian entities.
- Trump used numerous questionable and outright illegal deductions. He deducted $750,000 in consulting fees paid to Ivanka while she was an employee of the company. He deducted the legal expenses incurred by Donald Trump Jr during the Mueller investigation. (Jr’s role in the Mueller investigation was solely related to his campaign activities and therefore cannot be deducted.)
- Trump deducted $70,000 in hairstyling expenses (it’s ok to laugh.) Such deductions have been explicitly rejected by the tax court system.
In summation, the president typically pays almost nothing in federal income taxes, is likely using illegal deductions, has large business entanglements with foreign countries, and is massively in debt with no revenue to repay those debts and no banks willing to refinance it.