Trump is coming unglued over his taxes. Yes, he comes unglued a lot, but this issue is at the heart of his campaign, so it could destroy him. Peter Kiernan, a decorated Marine veteran of Afghanistan, figured out how to do this. And it’s such a fabulous (and fun) idea that Reid Hoffman, the founder of Linkedin, almost immediately gave him a $5 million matching grant.
Kiernan leverages the fact that Trump really is hiding something huge and that’s why he cannot and will not release his returns. He figured out how that can make it safe for us to put an enormous amount of pressure on Trump, basically at no cost. It’s 99% sure Hoffman will not actually spend one cent even though he really is putting $5M pressure on Trump.
Think what it would look like if we could raise $10 million by the third debate on Oc 19. (It’s well over $6M now) That puts a tremendous pressure on Trump as it would mean (a) he is cutting off the Vets from $10 million (And he says “There is nobody that loves the vets more or respects the vets more”) and (b) he must think that what he’s hiding is even worse than stiffing them for $10 million.
So what’s Trump hiding? It’s not just his low-to-zero tax payments. He is seriously proud of those, although they are starting to give him trouble. Hiding his taxes came before the recent disclosures and has one of three causes:
- They show he’s worth far less than he claims
- They show he gives far less than he claims
- They show he’s in hock to the Russia’s oligarchs
#1 undermines his sole claim to be qualified — his business success. #2 shows he cares only about himself and lies about it. #3 shows he has a conflict with national security. Any (or all) of these would devastate his campaign. Add your vote as to which is the strongest reason.Trump “Brilliantly” loses $1B. Brilliantly uses loopholes & Brilliantly doesn't suggest a fix. Do thisClick To Tweet
Here’s how the challenge works and why it’s brilliant
People are going HERE, and once every few minutes someone clicks the pledge button. They give their name, email and credit card info. The CrowdPAC site promises not to charge their card unless Trump releases his returns. Click the pledge button and they email you a receipt. That’s it.
If Trump releases his returns, all of the pledges are divided evenly among 10 veterans organizations. If he doesn’t, they get none of it, and your credit card is not charged.
I just pledged $400. Does that make me generous? Not really. It’s not going to cost me a penny. I’m sure Trump will not release his taxes by the third debate. So I will not be charged. And on the one-in-1000 chance that the challenge works … well, this is one for the history books, and I will be part of it. Plus I’ll feel great about donating to the veterans.
Small donors have already pledged $1.2 million (3 Oct) and Hoffman matched the first million with his $5 million.Thanks @ReidHoffman! $5M veterans match. Trump tax. Damned if he does/doesn’t. Please find us new match.Click To Tweet
What’s the connection between vets and Trump’s taxes?
Kiernan explained it like this on Rachel Maddow:
“It has a lot to do with Trump’s claim about paying no taxes is a smart thing to do. When I was in Afghanistan, taxes paid for my body armor. Taxes paid for the emergency life flight that my buddies got flown out on when they lost their legs. Taxes pay for Gold Star families, for the 14 children that I know today, without fathers. … Where I come from leaders are meant to lead by example.”
Also remember that Trump claims to be a huge supporter of veterans. So it will be particularly hard for him to explain denying them this $6M+ that cost him nothing.
Three other things you can do:
- Go HERE and post to FB, Tweet or pledge
- Tweet to @ReadHoffman and ask him to find another matching grant.
- Go to your local county FB page for Clinton and comment ? ask Clinton for a match
Here’s more evidence that this is a really important issue. In August, sixty-two percent of Republicans wanted to see Trump release his tax returns (and 66% of Independents agreed).
If you’re not sure what Trump’s up to, the stories below have some interesting clues to help you decide. And they’ll provide you will some great talking points about Trump—regardless of the tax returns.
Why is Trump so afraid to show his tax returns?
The first possibility is that he’s not the businessman he claims to be. But there are four other possibilities. Here’s a voter’s guide to the poll above.
- The IRS audit is stopping him
- Nope. No one’s buying this.
- He dramatically overstated his business success
- Strong evidence from Trump and others
- He is embarrassingly stingy
- Strong evidence and he’s stonewalling
- He doesn’t pay any taxes
- That’s not it. He’s proud of that.
- He’s in debt to Russian oligarchs
- Spooky evidence, some of it from Trump
First, here’s the 30-second version
1. Is the IRS audit stopping him?
Back in July the IRS debunked this nonsense. Obviously you can show your tax returns to anyone you want. They’re yours. Even the ultra-conservative websites don’t buy this. And the 12,000 page excuse? How does that explain not releasing his two-page 1040 and his one-page Schedule A? Those tell income, charitable donations and taxes paid.
2. Has he dramatically overstated his business success?
It’s a touchy issue for Trump. When Comedy Central hosted a Trump roast five years ago, the one subject he ruled out was any suggestion that he was not as wealthy as he’s claimed.
Most big banks now shun Trump due to his bankruptcies, so his go-to bank became Deutche Bank. When Trump sued Timothy O’Brien, author of TrumpNation, for $5 billion, for tagging him with a low worth, O’Brien’s legal team got a look at Deutche Bank’s estimate for Trump in 2005. It was $788 million—less than one billion.
In his book, O’Brien cited Trump’s estimates, which ranged from $1.7 to $9.5 billion, and cited “three people with direct knowledge of Donald’s finances” who put it “somewhere between $150 million and $250 million.”
O’Brien’s lawyer demanded to see Trump’s tax returns. Trump failed to comply and the judge threw out his $5 billion case. Trump appealed and a three-judge panel ruled against him. During the case, Trump was asked:
Q: When you publicly state what you’re worth, what do you base that number on?
A: I would say it’s my general attitude at the time that the question may be asked. And as I say, it varies.
Trump often exaggerates. By a lot.
3. Would his returns show he’s incredibly stingy?
In an interview with the Washington Post he was reminded, “You said you’ve given more than $100 million to charity over the last five years.” And then this followed:
Drew Harwell: So who are you giving money to specifically?
Donald Trump: I give mostly to a lot of different groups.
Drew Harwell: Can you give us any names? One name, two names?
Donald Trump: No, I don’t want to. No, I don’t want to because I’d like to keep it private.
Right, Donald is very shy and doesn’t like talking about the great things he does. Does he think we’re such chumps as to believe this for even a second? All he has to do is release page 1, line 19 of his Schedule A—as you can see by downloading any of Clinton’s tax returns. This would prove he’s generous, if he is (and without even mentioning names).
More likely, he’s the “Least Charitable Billionaire In The World” News Examiner.
4. Does pay no taxes?
As Clinton suggested in the first debate: “So if he’s paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.” Donald’s reply? “That makes me smart.”
So cross this one off the list. This can’t be the reason he’s hiding his returns because he’s proud of not paying taxes. “I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible,” Trump told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in May.
5. Is he in debt to the banks of Russian oligarchs?
“I’m the king of debt. … I’ve made a fortune by using debt, and if things don’t work out, I renegotiate the debt.” How do you do that? “You go back and you say, hey guess what, the economy crashed, I’m going to give you back half.” —Trump, June 2016.
His companies have filed for bankruptcy six times, to avoid paying their debts. So, major banks in America stopped lending to him, and Trump first turned to Deutsche Bank. But even that relationship soured because Trump has burned them on several occasions.
So Trump was forced to seek financing from non-traditional institutions. Several had direct ties to Russian financial interests.
“The Trump-Russia links beneath the surface are even more extensive,” wrote Max Boot, a conservative former editor of the Wall Street Journal. “Trump has sought and received funding from Russian investors for his business ventures.”
Also, secret ledgers in Ukraine contained references to $12.7 million in payments earmarked for Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager. Pro-Russian ally, Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych, set up these illegal payments. Also, as Max Boot reported:
Manafort also has done multimillion-dollar business deals with Russian oligarchs. Trump’s foreign policy advisor has business ties with state-owned Russian oil giant Gazprom.
Trump brought his Miss Universe pageant to Moscow, and attended a glitzy after-party in a Moscow nightclub. “Almost all of the oligarchs were in the room,” Trump bragged to Real Estate Weekly upon returning home.
Time Magazine concluded, “Trump’s financing from Russian satellite business interests would seem to explain his pro-Putin sympathies [Aug 2, 2016].” And Conservative columnist George Will said on Fox News (July 2016), “Perhaps one more reason why we’re not seeing his tax returns — because he is deeply involved in dealing with Russian oligarchs and others.”