Op-ed: An unknown source provided the New York Times’ tax records that show Donald Trump lost nearly a billion dollars in 1996. The newspaper, and other media, said the revelation could mean Trump hasn’t had to pay taxes for all the years since.
The Trump campaign did not deny the loss but said the records had been illegally obtained, and threatened legal action.
The Times’ decision to report the loss likely would be covered by the First Amendment guarantees, especially since so far there is no claim that the information is false.
And in today’s wired world there is no way to put this information back in what is Trump’s Pandora box.
However, the Washington Post said Times' staff might be prosecuted. The Post had risked just that when it published the Watergate story.
The Post said: "It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution."
The newspaper said the losses were “derives from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic city casinos…”
Politico’s headline on the tax report said: "Bombshell Report sends GOP Nominee Reeling.”
The news site said: “Trump’s refusal to release any tax returns, something every presidential nominee since Richard Nixon in 1972 has done, has been one of the larger clouds hanging over his campaign and one his Democratic opponent has sought to exploit.
It now appears as though the GOP nominee’s failure to come clean has backfired, with the Times drawing one of the same conclusions that Hillary Clinton offered as a possible explanation for Trump’s secrecy in last Monday’s debate — that he has paid little or no federal income tax for some time.”
And it explains why he has refused to release his taxes as has every major candidate since Richard Nixon.
In what seemed like the plot of a movie about Watergate or Robert Redford’s “Three Days of the Condor,” the Times does not know the source of the records.
“The documents consisted of three pages from what appeared to be Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at The Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances,” the newspaper said.
It had a tax specialist examine them and it was determined he may have been able to avoid all taxes since then. The Washington Post also had a tax accountant review them, and he came to the same conclusion.
In the past week, Trump’s surge in popularity had stopped after a poor performance in the first debate. Clinton has moved further ahead in most polls.
2016 US election news and other news from the USA
Worked in journalism, including on the Internet, for more than 40 years. Started as a news editor at the Colorado Daily at the University of Colorado, joined a small Montana newspaper, the Helena Independent-Record, and then United Press International.