Trump Won’t Release Tax Returns, Citing IRS Audit

After weeks of GOP presidential debates without any real tax talk (you can read about the last one here), the candidates finally got around to talking about tax. Only this time, instead of focusing on tax proposals, the candidates focused on tax returns. Specifically, tax returns belonging to Donald Trump: Trump has resisted calls to release his returns.

Prior to the debate, previous GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney called for Trump to release his returns, hinting there might be a “bombshell” in those returns, telling Fox News:

I think there’s something there. Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the vets or to the disabled like he’s been telling us he’s doing.

In the hours before the debate, Romney renewed his call for Trump to release his returns , tweeting:

You might think that Trump – who will clearly have a tax return at least as complicated as Mitt Romney’s 203 page return – has a similar excuse.

He does not.

Trump claims that he wants to release his tax returns but he cannot – because he is being audited. Trump said, about the return, “As far as my return, I want to file it. I will absolutely give my return but I’m being audited now.” He went on to add that “everybody” would agree that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should complete its audit of the returns before Trump releases the returns.

Trump also suggested that the agency has audited him repeatedly because of his faith.

“Well, maybe [it’s] because of the fact that I’m a strong Christian, and I feel strongly about it and maybe there’s a bias,” Trump said in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo after the debate.

The IRS denied that taxpayers are audited because of their religion.

“The IRS stresses that audits of tax returns are based on the information contained on the taxpayer’s return and the underlying tax law — nothing else. Politics and religion do not factor into this,” its statement said. “The audit process is handled by career, non-partisan civil servants, and we have processes in place to safeguard the exam process.”

In May 2016, Donald Trump met with the Associated Press where he explained despite pressure, the billionaire said he doesn’t believe he has an obligation to release his tax returns and won’t release them before November unless an ongoing audit of his finances is completed before Election Day. He said he wouldn’t overrule his lawyers and instruct them to release his returns if the audit hasn’t concluded by then.

“Now, I hope it gets finished soon. And if it gets finished soon, I put it out immediately because there’s nothing there. But until you get finished, you won’t,” he said.

(h/t Forbes, Associated Press)

Reality

While there is no legal requirement for a presidential candidate to release their tax returns, there is 40 years of unbroken precedent.

Despite telling conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt in February 2015, Trump could absolutely release those returns now – even in the middle of an audit.

The IRS has corrected this false claim: “Federal privacy rules prohibit the IRS from discussing individual tax matters. Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.”

While an audit could result in a change (or two) to his returns, it does not change what Trump filed, signing “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete.” In other words, no matter how what happens as a result of the audit, what Trump submitted, he did so claiming that it was true at the time. If the IRS makes an adjustment (which happens, even with the best prepared returns), it shouldn’t substantially change the nature of the returns. And if the IRS makes no adjustment, then there was no harm, no foul, in releasing those returns. Trump could release those returns at any time.

Some Trump Charities Waiting on Funds

Trump at rally for vets in Des Moines

Several of the nearly two-dozen veterans charitable organizations that were promised donations by Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump have yet to receive any money nearly a month after Trump first made the pledge, the FOX Business Network has learned.

Trump made the pledge at a January 28 press conference after he announced he was not attending a debate sponsored by the Fox News Channel, the sister network of FOX Business. Trump said he had received pledges to raise $6 million for 22 charities focused on veterans, including $1 million of his own money.

“Our Veterans have been treated like third-class citizens and it is my great honor to support them with this $1 million dollar contribution – they are truly incredible people. We are going to strengthen our military, take care of our Vets and Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a press release at the time.

But nearly a month after Trump made the pledge, at least three, and possibly more, of the 22 charities haven’t received any money yet, according to interviews conducted by FOX Business. Meanwhile, seven of the 22 charities told FOX Business they have received checks totaling $650,000, while the remaining organizations either declined to say whether or not they received the money or didn’t return repeated calls for comment.

“Mr. Trump personally contributed $1 million dollars to the cause and raised an additional $5 million before the one-hour event concluded, totaling more than $6 million dollars,” the press release added. “The night benefited twenty-two different organizations, a number of which are Iowa based Veterans groups. Mr. Trump has been a major supporter of Veterans organizations throughout his life and has made strengthening our military, reforming the VA and taking care of our great Veterans cornerstones of his campaign.”

Still, the failure to deliver some of the promised money after a well-publicized press conference where Trump touted the fact that fellow billionaires like financier Carl Icahn would contribute as well, has raised some eyebrows among watchdogs that follow charities. Michael Thatcher, president of Charity Navigator, a non-profit that evaluates charities, said “it’s reasonable to be expecting that all the money would be delivered by this time” because Trump made a “highly publicized promise.”

“It is totally reasonable to question why some have gotten money and some haven’t,” Thatcher said. “When you make a promise like he has there is an expectation for timely delivery.”

Thatcher said much of the delay in disbursing funds to charities often involves vetting organizations’ non-profit status and other issues. But Trump appeared to have vetted the veterans’ charities beforehand and provided a list of organizations that would receive the money.

“With that, there’s even less reason for any money to be delayed,” Thatcher said.

In a telephone interview, Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski maintains that Trump has and will fully deliver on his promise to deliver the $6 million to the veterans groups. He added that the $650,000 that FOX Business has determined was distributed to charities is significantly below the actual number, but he declined to provide a full accounting of how much of the pledged money has been distributed or how many of the 22 charities have received cash.

Lewandowski added that it isn’t unusual for charities to receive such pledges even a month after being promised the money.

“He’s distributed multi-millions of dollars…It was money that was pledged, and we are still collecting it,” Lewandowski said. “We are continuing to follow up with people who pledge donations.” Additionally, he said: “We’ve added another couple dozen organizations to the list of veteran organizations that will receive donations.”

Some of the charities contacted by FOX Business agreed with Lewandowski’s assessment on the timing of when they should receive their money.

“We haven’t received any money yet, but [we] do expect to get it. It’s not unusual when someone or an organization has an event, for it to take weeks or even months before we receive a check, “ said Kerri Childress, vice president of Fisher House, one of the 22 veterans charities on the Trump list that hasn’t received money as of publication of this story.

Childress added: “We haven’t heard how much or when we might be receiving the money.”

Trump’s charitable donations have become a campaign issue as he has solidified his lead for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. Speaking to Neil Cavuto on the Fox News Channel, 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized Trump for not releasing his tax returns, and questioned his charitable giving.

“I think in Donald Trump’s case, it’s likely to be a bombshell [in not releasing his tax returns],” Romney said. “Perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the veterans or to the disabled like he’s been telling us he’s been doing. I think that’s the reason there’s a bombshell [in his returns].”

Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant who advises Democrats
including former President Bill Clinton, said failure to live up to charitable promises can be deadly for most politicians, but Trump’s campaign is unique in that he has been able to side step various controversies and remain ahead in the polls with his take-no-prisoners approach to campaigning.

“Trump may be the first presidential candidate in history to go unpunished for not meeting his charitable promises,” Sheinkopf said. “He’s a phenomena; there’s no rational explanation for any of it.”

(h/t Fox Business)

Links

Trump press release.

Donald Trump Confronts Protester Wearing ‘KKK Endorses Trump’ Shirt

Protester wears shirt 'KKK endorses Trump'

Donald Trump paused a campaign rally Friday night in Oklahoma to stare down a protester who showed up wearing a white T-shirt stating in dark letters, “KKK endorses Trump.”

Trump walked to the edge of the podium, staring toward the man for several moments as law enforcement officials moved to escort him away from the area.

“In the good ‘ole days, law enforcement acted a lot quicker than this,” Trump said when he finally returned to the microphone.

“In the good ‘ole days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast. But today everybody is politically correct,” Trump said. “You know, it is a shame, when you think.”

Media

Links

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/271022-trump-stares-down-protester-wearing-kkk-endorses-trump-shirt

Trump vs. the First Amendment

During a rally in Fort Worth, Texas, Trump began his usual tirade against newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, saying they’re “losing money” and are “dishonest.” The Republican presidential candidate then took a different turn, suggesting that when he’s president they’ll “have problems.”

One of the things I’m going to do if I win, and I hope we do and we’re certainly leading. I’m going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re going to open up those libel laws. So when The New York Times writes a hit piece which is a total disgrace or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected,

(h/t Politico, National Review)

Reality

Freedom of the press in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This clause is generally understood as prohibiting the government from interfering with the printing and distribution of information or opinions.

If a President Donald Trump does attempt to go after journalists and media outlets it would be a clear violation of the constitution and highly anti-American.

Media

Rubio Claims Trump Hired Illegal Workers From Poland

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio charged Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump with hypocrisy for hiring undocumented immigrants for his real estate projects instead of American citizens.

“He hired from Poland, and he had to pay a million dollars or so in a judgment,” Rubio said. “That’s a fact. People can look it up. I’m sure people are Googling it right now, ‘Trump Polish workers.’ You’ll see $1 million for hiring illegal workers on one of his projects. He did.”

Politifact did some Googling and also reached out to the Rubio campaign, which referred them to media reports about a protracted class-action lawsuit involving his hiring of Polish aliens 36 years ago.

Sometime between 1979 and 1980, Trump hired a contractor to demolish an old building in midtown Manhattan to make way for Trump Tower. The contractor signed on workers from a local union and, to meet Trump’s tight deadline, also brought on 200 undocumented laborers from Poland dubbed the “Polish Brigade.”

The Polish employees were off-the-books, working 12-hour shifts seven days a week for $4 to $5 an hour, with no overtime. Some workers were never paid what they were owed.

In 1983, union members sued a union boss, Trump and his contractor for cheating the union out of pension and welfare funds by hiring the Polish Brigade. Trump owed the union pension fund $1 million, the plaintiffs said.

Appearing in court in 1990, Trump blamed the violations on the contractor and denied knowing that the Polish workers were undocumented.

The case dragged on until 1999 when Trump quietly settled, according to the New York Daily News, but the agreement was placed under seal.

Media

Links

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/25/marco-rubio/marco-rubio-says-donald-trump-had-pay-1-million-hi/

CNN Republican Debate Implodes

GOP candidates acting like children

The CNN Republican debate in Houston, Texas devolved into a shouting match of children at one point. This happens at every debate prior but this was by far the worst display of immaturity by all candidates.

Please, someone, after watching the clip below I want you to make a case for the whiner, the robot, or the fascist, or any of them as looking presidential.

Media

Links

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-idUSMTZSAPEC2P3ODAT9

Trump Talks About Judges ‘Signing Bills’

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump made a bizarre assertion about judges “signing bills” during the February 25th Republican CNN debate.

Trump made the comments while defending his sister Maryanne Trump Barry, who is a senior judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. She is also pro-choice.

Trump said:

“Excuse me, she’s a brilliant judge. He’s been criticizing — he’s been criticizing my sister for signing a certain bill. You know who else signed that bill? Justice Samuel Alito, a very conservative member of the Supreme Court, with my sister, signed that bill. So I think that maybe we should get a little bit of an apology from Ted. What do you think?”

(h/t Daily Caller)

Reality

Judges don’t sign bills. That’s not how our democracy works.

The many statements by Trump like this highlight his complete lack of knowledge and understanding of the United States Constitution and our laws.

Media

Trump Threatens Ads Against Ricketts Family, Chicago Cubs ‘Not Properly Run’

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump elaborated on a cryptic warning he issued to the Ricketts family in February, suggesting he would take ads out saying they’re doing a “rotten job” with the Chicago Cubs.

“I’ll start doing ads about their baseball team. That it’s not properly run or that they haven’t done a good job in the brokerage business lately,” Trump said in an interview with the Washington Post editorial board.

Asked if he would launch those attack ads as the president, Trump responded, “No, not while I am president.”

In February, Trump via Twitter denounced a super political action committee opposing his campaign that is primarily funded by Marlene Ricketts, whose family owns the Cubs.

Asked by the Post what he meant, Trump first said, “I don’t know these people. Those Ricketts.”

“I actually said they ought to focus on the Chicago Cubs and, you know, stop playing around. They spent millions of dollars fighting me in Florida,” Trump said.

“I’ll start spending on them. I’ll start taking ads telling them all what a rotten job they’re doing with the Chicago Cubs. I mean, they are spending on me. I mean, so am I allowed to say that?”

Trump’s initial Twitter post apparently was in response to a story noting that Ricketts, the family matriarch who lives in Nebraska, had put $3 million into the Our Principles PAC in January. The PAC had spent about $3.5 million in ads, mailings and other efforts to oppose Trump, federal records showed in February.

Asked to respond to Trump’s latest comments, a spokesman for the family referred to team Chairman Tom Ricketts’ response last month.

“We stand up for what we believe in,” Ricketts said then. “We support the causes we think are important. That is what America should be.”

Marlene Ricketts is married to Joe Ricketts, the billionaire T.D. Ameritrade founder. In October 2009, the couple formed a trust on behalf of their family that acquired a 95 percent controlling interest in the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Both Marlene and Joe Ricketts are conservatives, and son Pete is governor of Nebraska.

(h/t Chicago Tribune)

Reality

It is very concerned when a candidate who is running for the President of the United States of America is willing to throw his weight at people who oppose him politically. Todd Ricketts summed it up best, “It’s a little surreal when Donald Trump threatens your mom.”

While Trump said he’s ready to criticize the family over how the Cubs are run, the team made it to the National League championship series last year and is considered by many as a World Series contender this year.

Forbes magazine valued the Cubs at $1.8 billion in 2015, ranking them 17th out of all sports franchises in the world, and the fifth highest in all Major League Baseball. The Cubs attendance for the 2015 regular season was 2,959,812, up over 300,000 from the previous year.

As of June, the Chicago Cubs are 1st place in National League Central.

Not the definition of “rotten.”

 

Trump Declares His Love of the Uneducated

Trump victory speech in Nevada

Presidential candidate Donald Trump easily won the Republican Nevada primary with over 44% of the votes in early counting, in a election marked by complaints of fraud and chaos. He made a victory speech in front of a rowdy crowd dressed in “Make America Great Again” hats and t-shirts at his Las Vegas hotel, and expressed his love for everyone from casino mogul Steve Wynn to the “poorly educated.” He also offered up some more information about his plans should he be elected president, including keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention facility open and loading it up with “bad dudes.”

Quartz has transcribed his entire victory speech. You can also view it here (speech starts at the 1:49:22 mark).

We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated. We’re the smartest people, we’re the most loyal people, and you know what I’m happy about? Because I’ve been saying it for a long time. 46% were the Hispanics—46%, No. 1 one with Hispanics. I’m really happy about that.

Reality

Trump literally called a bunch of his supporters stupid.

Media

Links

http://qz.com/623640/i-love-the-poorly-educated-read-donald-trumps-full-nevada-victory-speech/

Trump Wishes to Punch Protester In the Face

On the eve before the Nevada caucuses Trump publicly wished he could commit physical harm to a protester being escorted out of his rally.

I’d like to punch him in the face,” Trump said, remarking that a man disrupting his rally was escorted out with a smile on his face. “He’s smiling, having a good time.

Trump claimed the protester was “nasty as hell” and accused the man of trying to punch the security officers forcing him out of the rally, though the man did not appear to be fighting off those officers.

In the old days, protesters would be carried out on stretchers. We’re not allowed to push back anymore.

Reality

Comments like these add to the growing evidence that Donald Trump supports and condones violence against people with different ideas.

Media

Links

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/23/politics/donald-trump-nevada-rally-punch/

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