General Question

2davidc8's avatar

Trump refuses to release his tax returns, how did the New York Times obtain them?

Asked by 2davidc8 (10127points) September 28th, 2020

Yes, I know that this was asked in a reply to an earlier question, but it was not adequately answered. So, I’m asking it here for general discussion.

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9 Answers

janbb's avatar

Ever hear of the Pentagon Papers? I assume someone on the inside smuggled them out.

Pandora's avatar

In Trump’s famous words. Anyone can be bought and some people may actually believe Trump is a threat to the Nation and they have access to his taxes. It’s not hard especially if you work for the company that does his Taxes and knows him to be a crook and a liar.

jca2's avatar

This doesn’t reveal the source, but does provide some insight.

Cut and pasted from the NY Times, 9/28/2020:

The New York Times has obtained tax-return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization, including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019. This article offers an overview of The Times’s findings; additional articles will be published in the coming weeks.

The returns are some of the most sought-after, and speculated-about, records in recent memory. In Mr. Trump’s nearly four years in office — and across his endlessly hyped decades in the public eye — journalists, prosecutors, opposition politicians and conspiracists have, with limited success, sought to excavate the enigmas of his finances. By their very nature, the filings will leave many questions unanswered, many questioners unfulfilled. They comprise information that Mr. Trump has disclosed to the I.R.S., not the findings of an independent financial examination. They report that Mr. Trump owns hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable assets, but they do not reveal his true wealth. Nor do they reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.


In response to a letter summarizing The Times’s findings, Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the documents on which they were based. After The Times declined to provide the records, in order to protect its sources, Mr. Garten took direct issue only with the amount of taxes Mr. Trump had paid.

“Over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015,” Mr. Garten said in a statement.

With the term “personal taxes,” however, Mr. Garten appears to be conflating income taxes with other federal taxes Mr. Trump has paid — Social Security, Medicare and taxes for his household employees. Mr. Garten also asserted that some of what the president owed was “paid with tax credits,” a misleading characterization of credits, which reduce a business owner’s income-tax bill as a reward for various activities, like historic preservation.

seawulf575's avatar

One has to wonder…since he hasn’t released his tax returns, if someone took them, that is theft. So isn’t the NYT guilty of receiving stolen property?

Jeruba's avatar

^^ Well, first, the article did say nothing was obtained illegally. Second, if nothing was taken from him but given voluntarily by those who had it legitimately, I wouldn’t expect an argument like that to fly.

You don’t suppose he does his own taxes, do you? or, let’s say, acquires loans from banks without involving anyone at the banks? Possibly you think he acquires them the way Bonnie and Clyde did?

If I lent someone hundreds of millions of dollars, information about the borrower would definitely be my business.

If the only evidence of crimes that investigators could get were evidence voluntarily handed over by the culprits, it would be pretty hard to enforce any law.

elbanditoroso's avatar

You have to assume it was someone who is in the ‘inner circle’, close enough to have access to the emperor.

And by definition, someone who wants to stick it to Trump in a serious way.

I doubt we will ever know for sure, but how many people are there who have that sort of access to these inner-secret tax documents who ALSO have a serious dislike of Orangeboy.

The number of people that fit both criteria can’t be more than ten.

Jeruba's avatar

@elbanditoroso, I don’t see why. They might never even have come close to meeting the man or meeting anyone who has ever met him. They just had to have access to the records, at a bank, an accountant’s office, a law office, somewhere. And maybe a thumb drive.

And the person might not care one way or the other about Trump, might not even be a U.S. citizen, but might see a considerable advantage in possessing the information—and maybe even doing more than one thing with it.

There could also be numerous sources, some redundant and some possessing just one or two puzzle pieces that someone else has been able to assemble. After all, they’ve had nearly four years to do this. A lot can happen in four years. A lot can happen in four minutes.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Jeruba possible, I suppose, but I still think it’s likely to be an insider of some sort.

Of course, it could be Putin releasing damaging stuff because it is tired of Orangeboy.

Jeruba's avatar

@elbanditoroso, there’s really no reason to think these disclosures even took place within U.S. territory. There’s Deutsche Bank to consider, for instance, and there’s the fact that Trump has been particularly unpleasant to Germany.

And anyplace that has a security system anywhere, there’s potentially an employee who has access. There’s a vulnerability of some kind.

Insiders probably have more to lose than they stand to gain. I’m not thinking the leaks were motivated by personal nobility. Were you?

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