Alan Zendell, February 22, 2021
Did you ever wonder why beavers spend so much time and energy building dams? When I asked Google, it said because those that do survive and those that don’t, don’t. Beavers are rodents, and not terribly smart ones; they don’t think too hard about what they do. They’re instinct-driven, and their most basic instinct is survival. Their dams create ponds where they can live safely, relatively free of predators most of the time. But every so often, their creek floods, and there’s too much water for their dam to hold back. Their security is breached.
Substitute Donald Trump for the beaver, an army of high-priced lawyers and henchman for the twigs and detritus that form the dam, and the safe harbor Trump retreats to whenever courts and law enforcement start looking into his affairs for the pond. Now you understand why the Supreme Court decision to remove all legal barriers from the release of Trump’s tax records to New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance is so important. His lawyers created a logjam in the court system that has lasted for decades to prevent exposure of information that could land Trump in prison. The Court, one third of which was appointed by Trump, ruled against him with no dissent.
In most complex criminal investigations, the war cry is, “Follow the money.” If you wonder why tax records matter so much, consider that mobsters like Al Capone were untouchable until the FBI realized they could convict them of tax evasion. Federal and state investigators will be looking for that in Trump’s records, but examining how people spend money and how they represent their holdings on official documents can expose a variety of other crimes: bribery, extortion, fraud, racketeering, campaign finance violations, money laundering, hush payments – the potential list reads like a B movie script.
In 2018, Trump’s fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, pled guilty to eight counts of tax evasion and campaign finance violations in federal court. In 2019, he testified to Congress that when he committed those crimes he was acting at the behest of his boss, Donald Trump. He also claimed to have evidence of Trump’s ties to Russia and of his involvement in Roger Stone’s relationship with Wikileaks. After being exposed as the sleaze he is, Cohen’s public attempt at redemption didn’t convince many people, but if money changed hands in either of those activities, Trump’s tax records could validate Cohen’s allegations.
His tax records were the subject of Trump’s first and most persistent lie since he became a politician. First, he promised to release them “at the appropriate time.” When that time, which was never specified, had become moot, he claimed he couldn’t release them because they were under audit. When voters seemed not to care whether he released them, he started playing the victim card. He was the subject of a vast conspiracy to destroy his presidency, the likes of which…you’ve heard it all before. A lot of people wondered, after he’d become president, and his supporters clearly couldn’t have cared less, why Trump continued to go to such lengths to hide his tax records.
Maybe it was the $400 million in Trump’s debts reported by the New York Times. The fact that the only major bank who would do business with him in the last decade was Deutschebank, which was fined nearly a billion dollars by the EU for money laundering, naturally raised the question of whom he was in debt to. The statements of his son, Donald Trump, Jr, bragging that Trump would never have trouble borrowing because Russian banks loved him might shed some light. There’s enough smoke there to call the Fire Department.
The only thing that’s clear is that Trump has been and remains desperate to keep prosecutors from examining the details of his tax returns. Only a fool would conclude that it’s because he values privacy and has nothing of a criminal nature to hide. Trump has repeatedly shown himself to be totally without scruples. Did he, as Michael Cohen charged, undervalue his properties to avoid taxes while simultaneously overvaluing them when using them as collateral? Is he seriously indebted to Russian and Chinese oligarchs? Those question are not academic, and their answers may explain why Trump was willing to provoke insurrection to remain in power, where he was exempt from prosecution.
Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican Party and says he intends to runs for president again in 2024. If that’s true every American should know exactly who and what he is.