Trump’s tax returns and the Mueller investigation

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 am, April 5th, 2019 - 53 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, Donald Trump, International, Politics, us politics - Tags:

The phrase “no collusion” has been resonating loudly in the USA during the past fortnight.  And liberals are upset.  We had hoped that following the release of the Mueller Report tall men in dark suits wearing sun glasses and having FBI badges would turn up at the White House and lead the orange one out in handcuffs.

Well it did not happen.  Or has not happened so far at least.

But it may not be time for Trump and his supporters to celebrate.

According to current Attorney General William Barr who was allowed to summarise Mueller’s 300 page report into 4 pages there was no evidence of collusion with the Russian Government during the 2016 election. Barr could not however whitewash Mueller’s finding that he could not conclude that Trump had obstructed justice but that the report did not exonerate him.

There you go, celebration at a finding that you could not be exonerated from a finding that you had obstructed justice.

And for someone who has so much to say about so many things Trump was never interviewed by Mueller, despite many, many attempts to do so.

Amanda Marcotte at Salon thinks that even this was too generous a finding.  She says this:

We know Trump obstructed justice: He did it in public, starting with the Comey firing. We know he literally asked the Russians to steal emails from Hillary Clinton, because he did that live on TV. We have good reason to believe that Russian intelligence took the request seriously, because within 24 hours, they were doing exactly as Trump asked. We know that Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner took a meeting with Russians promising “dirt” in exchange for sanctions relief, and we know that Trump has tried to use his power to dial down sanctions on Russia. We know that Donald Trump stood by Vladimir Putin in public, arguing that Putin’s denials should be believed and that the FBI’s findings that Russian agents orchestrated the 2016 election interference were false.

What we don’t know is the extent of the obstruction and collusion behind closed doors, because there’s been such a massive and, so far, successful effort at a cover-up. Barr’s sleazy move of putting out a brief letter full of weasel words and letting people assume that’s the “Mueller report” needs to be understood in that context.

In the end, this is yet another reminder that the entire Republican Party has been consumed by the corruption of the Trump administration. That’s why it’s not enough to talk of ousting Trump, either through impeachment or the likelier option of defeating him at the ballot box in November of next year. The reason Trump got so far in Republican politics in the first place is because the party is irredeemably corrupt, and he owes his continued safety entirely to that corruption.

It’s easy to get into the weeds on the various scandals and engage in line-by-line debates over the evidence, but that’s not the important part. The bigger picture is clear: Republicans are corrupt and will go to great lengths to cover up criminality. They are taking down the country with their greed and depravity. Bill Barr’s fake version of the Mueller report is just the latest example.

And it appears that individuals involved in the investigation think the same. From the New York Times:

Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.

At stake in the dispute — the first evidence of tension between Mr. Barr and the special counsel’s office — is who shapes the public’s initial understanding of one of the most consequential government investigations in American history. Some members of Mr. Mueller’s team are concerned that, because Mr. Barr created the first narrative of the special counsel’s findings, Americans’ views will have hardened before the investigation’s conclusions become public.

Mr. Barr has said he will move quickly to release the nearly 400-page report but needs time to scrub out confidential information. The special counsel’s investigators had already written multiple summaries of the report, and some team members believe that Mr. Barr should have included more of their material in the four-page letter he wrote on March 24 laying out their main conclusions, according to government officials familiar with the investigation.

Robert Reich, also in Salon, clearly explains why Trump’s trumpeting of the Barr finding misses the point.  After detailing far too many misdeeds he says this:

This is the essence of Trump’s failure — not that he has chosen one set of policies over another, or has divided rather than united Americans, or even that he has behaved in childish and vindictive ways unbecoming a president.

It is that he has sacrificed the processes and institutions of American democracy to achieve his goals.

By saying and doing whatever it takes to win, he has abused the trust we place in a president to preserve and protect the nation’s capacity for self-government.

Controversy over the Mueller report must not obscure this basic reality.

All eyes will now be on whether or not the Mueller Report will be published.  If it is not there is something deeply wrong with America’s system of government.

And in related news the House of Representatives has formally requested the release of Trump’s tax records from the IRS.

From Chris Cillizza at CNN:

After months of promises and amid growing frustration from even some of his Democratic colleagues, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal formally requested six years of Donald Trump’s tax returns on Wednesday — a move that will likely trigger one of the biggest political and legal showdowns of the President’s first term.

The request from the Massachusetts Democrat, which came in the form of a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig and was first reported by CNN’s Lauren Fox, was long expected. Under a little-known (until recently) 1924 provision in the IRS code, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is charged with setting tax policy, is allowed to request anyone’s tax return — including the President of the United States — as long as they can show that it is part of either an investigation or fulfilling Congress’ oversight role.

Trump does not want to comply.

Asked about Neal’s move on Wednesday, Trump seemed disinclined to instruct the IRS and the broader Treasury Department to comply with the request.

“Now, we’re under audit, despite what people said,” Trump said. “We’re working that out as — I’m always under audit it seems. But I’ve been under audit because the numbers are big and I guess when you have a name you’re audited. But until such time as I’m not under audit I would not be inclined to do that.”

Of course he does not want to have his tax details published.  There may be all sorts of information contradicting his claims that he had no business interests there and no loans from Russia, not to mention a great balance sheet.

Trump’s days of respite may be short lived. And publication of either the full Mueller report or release of his tax records to Congress could result in this particular film again being a reality.

53 comments on “Trump’s tax returns and the Mueller investigation”

  1. fustercluck 1

    “Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.”

    So, two and perhaps as many as four layers of hearsay. Ha.

    You may not like Trump’s personality. Fine. You may be offended by him pointing out that groupies for rich guys would happily allow their genitals to be grabbed. Fine. You may even disagree with his policies. Fine again.

    But hanging your hat on this kind of tenuous BS is farcical.

    If Barr misrepresented the Mueller report, either Mueller or his investigators would be baying from the rooftops. Their silence is deafening.

    Think harder, Homer.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Mueller has been exemplary in his handling of his investigation.

      I’m sure that the White House will reply by fast tracking the release of his report and of Trump’s tax records.

      • fustercluck 1.1.1

        What does releasing the Mueller report (minus redactions for classified info) have to do with Trump’s tax returns? Why is the left now conflating the two?

        Barr has committed to releasing the report minus redactions to protect classified info next month. The White House has said they will assert no executive privilege over any part of the report. Thus the whole thing is going to be out there. This whole kerfuffle about the report is a giant nothingburger.

        As for Trump’s tax returns, he has been audited over and over and over again. The IRS has gone over his finances with a fine tooth comb many times. He has no obligation to release his private information. This too is a nothingburger.

        I can fully understand why the left is not in love with Trump and I can fully understand why his policies would meet with opposition. But the whole orange man bad thing is just silly now. He is not an agent of Russia. Firing Comey was recommended by DAG Rosenstein, thus no obstruction there. That’s it. This part o the story is over.

        If you want to debate policy, sweet as. If you are going to continue with infantile personality politics, well that is just stupid.

        • crashcart 1.1.1.1

          It’s funny that the right tried to start the Meme that the left are a bunch of NPCs just regurgitating the same lines. You then get to read a post like the above and see the same lines you see from everyone who defends Trump. “Orange man bad” and “Nothing Burger”.

          I am inclined to agree with you that when the report makes its way to congress that they will find there is nothing they can hang collusion on. I honestly think Trump would have colluded if he was capable but the bumbling mess that the campaign was couldn’t manage it. I doubt there is a charge for attempted collusion. Barr may have jumped the gun on obstruction. We will need to see where that goes.

          As to Trump claiming he is being audited, he has never provided any evidence that it is the case. The IRS have also state that if it was the case it would not prevent him releasing his returns. He should just come out and say he doesn’t want to. His supporters won’t care and those who don’t support him will still be angry. Its as dumb as Bernie doing the same thing.

        • Macro 1.1.1.2

          Well if you had been following the narrative wrt to the orange one you would know by now, that over the past decade or so, he has had loans granted him by Deutsche Bank* worth around $2Billion dollars. There is some evidence to suggest that the underwriting of this massive sum of money comes from Russia. Mueller did indeed try to follow this line of investigation, by just how far he got we have no idea until the Report is released.
          The Corrupter in Chief keep saying that his tax returns are in audit so he’s not releasing them. They have been in audit for at least 6 years now, which might indicate that he does indeed have something to hide! Furthermore, just because his tax returns are in audit doesn’t mean that he can’t . Even tricky Dicky released his tax returns whilst they were in audit.
          So yes! The two House investigations are related. But you missed the third. The investigation into his inaugural event which somehow chewed through around $100+ million (much of it going to Trump hotels) and seemingly involved much money from foreign interests including the Saudi’s.

          *No American bank will touch him with a barge pole, he is such a liability risk, and has declared bankruptcy several times to avoid paying moneys owed.

    • Nick 1.2

      Trumps only policy is himself mate.

    • Lettuce 1.3

      “If Barr misrepresented the Mueller report, either Mueller or his investigators would be baying from the rooftops. Their silence is deafening.”

      Nah. If Barr had given an accurate representation of the Mueller report, either Trump or his supporters would be baying from the rooftops for whole thing to be released so it could exonerate him even more. Their silence is deafening.

    • Gabby 1.4

      I dunno bout that fuddacuck, possibly some arcane bit of yankistani law means you go to jail if you allege a liar is lying.

    • North 1.5

      It’s a cheap refuge Fustercluck….this hearsay you talk about.

      It’s taking cheaper refuge to remark – “You may be offended by him pointing out that groupies for rich guys would happily allow their genitals to be grabbed.” Cheaper because you lie Fustercluck. Trump reported his own historical behaviour. Everyone knows that and so do you. Still, you choose to lie and claim a mere reporting of groupies’ habits.

      You might as well stop pissing into the wind Fustercluck…..there’ll be more and more leaks…..particularly in respect of matters where Trump has hidden in the thickets, or where a stacked Supreme Court decides to protect him.

      Eventually enough will be known to have Trump routinely written in history as the most pathologically corrupt US president ever. Screech all you want baby…..take the cultist oath in blood if you wish…..but it’s that or America implodes. I cannot see the latter.

    • Charlie V 1.6

      “If Barr misrepresented the Mueller report, either Mueller or his investigators would be baying from the rooftops. Their silence is deafening.” When has Mueller or anyone associated with him ever acted like that?

  2. D'Esterre 2

    Fustercluck: “But hanging your hat on this kind of tenuous BS is farcical.”

    I couldn’t agree more. The usual suspects are screeching predictably about the Mueller report. Do the rest of us a favour, MS, and give this story a rest.

  3. Andre 3

    I’m just fascinated by all the convergence lefties that shout ‘there’s no evidence’ even when confronted by items like the Trump Tower meetings or Manafort sharing polling data, yet now seem to treat Barr’s cherry picked 101 words from a 300+ page report as the definitive last word on the matter.

    • fustercluck 3.1

      So, Andre, you are asserting that a USA AG has elected to deceive the entire nation with his summary, even though doing so would certainly be revealed by leaks, protestation from Mueller or his investigators, etc., and would be revealed as a falsehood by the subsequent and pending release of the full report?

      The ” Trump Tower meetings or Manafort sharing polling data” were fully known by the Mueller team and they found NOTHING.

      Let me state that again: NOTHING.

      There are important policy decisions being made daily and they have nothing to do with the Mueller nothingburger. Why is the left perseverating on nothing when there is plenty of important stuff that they could be fairly and honestly debating?

      • Andre 3.1.1

        Thanks for that glorious illustration of my point.

      • crashcart 3.1.2

        Bit early to say he found NOTHING. He found that the state would not be able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the Trump Campaign colluded with Russia. This does not equal NOTHING no matter how many times people say it. It means they don’t think they could get a conviction in a court. We will see how much actual evidence there is when the report is eventually released.

    • Macro 3.2

      Yeah – I wonder about the naivety of some of the commentators on here. The current US administration, and the Republican’s hypocritical response to all of the corruption, (that occurs on a daily basis over there) is a direct attack on what remained of democratic process. This is a huge threat, not only to the US, but to all of the western world.

      • marty mars 3.2.1

        + 1 yep very easy for these people to continue to put their heads in the sand. T.rump has trained them to listen to his majesty’s voice only and it works.

      • Andre 3.2.2

        Naivety doesn’t seem to be quite the right word. Seems to me it’s a massively exaggerated selectivity around what to accept or reject as valid parts of the big picture. Coupled with an intense need to try to divert the conversation to whatever spiny bug up their ass is wriggling the most at the moment.

        On reflection, maybe naivety is a big enough word to all that too.

        • fustercluck 3.2.2.1

          I think it is groupthink and sticking to the talking points of the day.

          • McFlock 3.2.2.1.1

            Possibly, although some people might simply be reading information through a heavy confirmation bias and not realise that they’re doing it.

    • mauī 3.3

      So we should read Muellers statement of “no evidence” as meaning “no evidence…, but, but, but! there is always a chance of there being some evidence…”

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/24/us/politics/mueller-report-summary.html

      Ha, love it!

      • joe90 3.3.1

        Muellers statement of “no evidence” as meaning

        Mueller made a statement?

        • mauī 3.3.1.1

          Near enough to it.

          • joe90 3.3.1.1.1

            So, you made shit up.

            • mauī 3.3.1.1.1.1

              Well yeah.. as much as every other media outlet who reported Mueller found no collusion. Are you going to do them on a technicality as well?

              • joe90

                Where can I find these reports citing Mueller?

                Oh, thats’s right, there are none. Because citing a partisan AF summary of a report isn’t citing Mueller, is it?

                • Macro

                  Well Barr did cherry pick 101 words from the 300+ page report, and somewhere in those 300+ pages Mueller apparently said “….. no collusion…” Just what the context was though, we are still to find out.
                  Anyway I have it on good authority that the orange one is gonna replace MAGA on his pink hat with “NC!!!!”
                  Besides we still need to find the orange of this report.

                  • Dukeofurl

                    No collusion with ‘official Russian government representatives’

                    Doesnt say ‘no collusion with any russians’. hell a whole heap of Trumps campaign people were indicted for lying about their russian contacts.

                    • Macro

                      Exactly!

                    • mauī

                      That would be a hell of a thing to leave out of the report summary. No collusion with the Russian government, but hey we forgot to tell you there was collusion with russian citizens!

                      Maybe they will do another 2 year report to see if regular russians were involved…

                    • Macro

                      Oh FFS maui! I suggest that you get your facts straight before making any more stupid comments.
                      Barr says: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” He quotes Mueller as saying: “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
                      Hell of a difference between “did not find” and “did not establish”.
                      However we all know as a matter of fact that members of Trumps campaign met with Russian individuals – some of who have connections to the government on a number of occasions, and indeed some have already been indicted. We also know that the backer of Maria Butina, is an an NGO partly funded by the Kremlin. The founder of the NGO, which is called Anti-Globalization Movement, is a 30 year old Russian lobbyist named Alexander Ionov with ties to the Kremlin. The NGO has ties to Russia’s far-right party and is funded in part by the Russian government. It’s aim is to, essentially, divide the West. Butina is expected to be sentenced and given credit for time served, then deported to Russia.

                    • mauī

                      Are you sure there’s much difference between those two words? I refer you to the dictionary : https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/establish

                      Synonyms:

                      demonstrate, prove, show, substantiate

                    • Macro

                      So we are left with the question – what did Mueller find? Obviously not enough in his opinion sufficient to establish legal proceedings. But that does not mean the Trump could not be impeached on whatever it was that Mueller did find even if he could not be indicted on that matter.
                      But leaving aside the matter of possible wilful cooperation with an outside government to influence the election, there is still the matter of obstruction of justice. It seems that Mueller was not willing to make the call on this matter, preferring to leave it up to others. He obviously presented the evidence as he saw it in his report. Barr was never going to indict Trump – he has written an legal opinion which essentially says a sitting President cannot be indicted. He then conveniently washes his hands of the matter. Barr says he and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein “have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense.” Barr does say however that the evidence presented does not exonerate Trump in this regard.
                      Furthermore, as I have noted below, Mueller and his team apparently wrote summaries specifically for publication. Why has Barr chosen to ignore these and write a whitewash instead?

  4. tony 4

    As the open minded people said .. “It’s a nothing burger” then we have Micky and friends looking for another haystack to find a needle in ..

  5. Andre 5

    Just a reminder, the exact bit from Barr’s letter reads “The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/24/politics/read-mueller-key-findings-doj/index.html

    “did not establish” is different to “no evidence of”.

    • crashcart 5.1

      Exactly Andre. This “nothing Burger” may have lettuce, tomato, onions, and an egg but just be missing the patty.

    • Dukeofurl 5.2

      Dont forget all those people from Trumps team, who were convicted/pleaded guilty to lying to FBI . And what were they lying about ? , it often was about their contacts with Russians . Coincidence.

      • Andre 5.2.1

        But, but, all those rooskies having pleasant wee chats with Chump campaign staff weren’t the Russian government. No sir, just random private Russian citizens.

        • Dukeofurl 5.2.1.1

          Even Sessions had to step aside because …he was caught out having undisclosed chats with the Russian ambassador – who lest was formally a government representative. Yes Clinton did too but with cameras recording the evnt.

    • mauī 5.3

      Yeah, didn’t Mueller say there is no evidence though. lol

      Spose there’s always a chance he might overturn his whole report… yeah right.

  6. Macro 6

    Hmmm seems like Mueller and his team anticipated that there would need to be a summary of the full report, and so drafted and included summaries for release as appropriate.
    Nalder is not only asking the DOJ for the Report, but all other communications betwen Mueller and Barr, over this matter.
    Here is part of Nalder’s letter:

    Dear Attorney General Barr,

    I write to you regarding troubling press reports relating to your handling of Special Counsel Mueller’s report, and to urge that you immediately release to the public any “summaries” contained in the report that may have been prepared by the Special Counsel.

    The New York Times and the Washington Post both report that some in the Special Counsel’s office have raised concerns about your March 24 letter summarizing the results of the Special Counsel’s investigation. The Post wrote that “members of [Special Counsel] Mueller’s team have complained to close associates that the evidence they gathered on obstruction was alarming and significant.”

    These reports suggest that the Special Counsel prepared his own summaries, intended for public consumption, which you chose to withhold in favor of your own: “Some members of the office were particularly disappointed that Barr did not release summary information the special counsel team had … prepared for different sections of the report, with a view that they could [be] made public.” In fact, one unnamed U.S. official is quoted as saying that “Mueller’s team assumed the information was going to be made available to the public … ‘and so they prepared their summaries to be shared in their own words-and not in the attorney general’s summary of their work, as turned out to be the case.”’

  7. Andre 7

    Another one of those plot twists that would get rejected as too implausible if this all were a TV show: Barr and Mueller are (were?) apparently good friends.

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/15/trump-russia-mueller-barr-friends-1102244

    • Macro 7.1

      Yeah that was always ironic – I gather Trump had a bit of a bad moment when he found out after Barr’s appointment.
      However, after his legal opinion piece that got him the job of AG – where he essentially said that the President could not be indicted – he could hardly have written anything other than the summary he did.

  8. adam 8

    You still not accepting that h.r.c was a utterly crap candidate…

    *sigh*

  9. Hah haha … the ongoing saga never ends .

    – ” And while Ena and Elsie still fume from their latest spat , – Ken Barlow discovers he has run out of tea and his cat was run over , – and that he also discovers he was overpaid by the govt in his tax returns by threepence” ,..

    Find out what decision Ken makes tomorrow in this weeks edition of …

    Coronation Street – Original Theme Tune – YouTube

  10. joe90 12

    Must be something damning in those tax records when you need insert your own point man to obstruct inquiries.

    Something here stinks.

    The New York Times reported late Thursday night that Trump urged Senate Republicans to confirm a new top lawyer at the IRS who would oversee a legal battle over his tax returns — just as Democrats began their quest to obtain the tax documents Trump has been hiding since announcing his candidacy.

    The nominee — Michael J. Desmond — has worked with Trump’s company in the past, advising the Trump Organization on tax-related matters prior to Trump’s presidency, Bloomberg News reported.

    https://shareblue.com/trump-irs-lawyer-protect-trump-taxes/

  11. Macro 13

    Bloody Hell! Everyday there is more intrigue and damning evidence pointing towards a massive obstruction of justice by Trump and the White House gang.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/apr/05/william-barr-memo-meeting-justice-department-steve-engel

    Justice department officials were told William Barr had been invited to meet them last summer on the same day he submitted an “unsolicited” memo that heavily criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into obstruction of justice by Donald Trump.

    Barr, who was a private attorney at the time, met the officials for lunch three weeks later and was then nominated to serve as Trump’s attorney general about six months later.

    The revelation about the meeting, which was arranged by Steve Engel, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, and which has not previously been publicly disclosed, raises new questions about whether the White House’s decision to hire Barr was influenced by private discussions he had about his legal views on Mueller’s investigation.

    Out of the blue, Barr delivers his infamous memo to the DoJ. On that same day the DoJ invites him to a lunch which occurred 19 days later. And we are to believe that the “memo was not discussed” at that lunch? If the memo was discussed at that lunch, then Barr did indeed lie to Congress when he testified that after writing the memo: “There was no follow-up from any of these Department officials.”

    Another damning piece of the puzzle: The DoJ official who invited Barr to lunch was Steve Engel. His job is to liaise with the White House on legal matters. Engel is a die hard Trump supporter. He wrote the memo justifying Trump’s appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General despite the fact that Whitaker was never confirmed by the Senate. It’s just beyond belief that Engel wasn’t coordinating in some way between Trump and Barr to ensure that the next AG’s allegiance would be to Trump and not the rule of law.

    It’s high time that Barr be hauled into Congress to testify again. The House Judiciary Committee must ask him: Are you pursuing the truth, as is your sworn duty, or are you actually part of a conspiracy to obstruct justice?

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