Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
President Donald Trump is facing a new legal battle with his niece Mary Trump who insists she was duped into forfeiting her inheritance following the death of her grandfather, Fred Trump, Sr., and her father, Fred Trump, Jr.
In the New York State Supreme Court lawsuit, filed in Manhattan on Thursday morning, Mary Trump named the president, her aunt, Maryanne Barry Trump, and her late uncle, Robert Trump — who passed away in August of this year. She outlined claims of fraudulent representation, fraudulent inducement, negligent representation, civil conspiracy, and fraudulent misrepresentation and concealment dating back to the "beginning of the 1980s."
"For Donald J. Trump, his sister Maryanne, and their late brother Robert, fraud was not just the family business — it was a way of life," the suit says. "Beginning in the 1980s, these siblings took control of the New York City real estate empire that their father Fred Sr. had built, and exploited it to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone around them."
According to the lawsuit, Mary Trump claims that she inherited "valuable minority interests in the family business." However, she insists her two uncles and aunt conspired to chip away at her inheritance over time, ultimately colluding to withhold the actual value of what she should have received.
"Rather than protect Mary's interests, they designed and carried out a complex scheme to siphon funds away from her interests, conceal their grift, and deceive her about the true value of what she had inherited," the suit read.
Mary Trump also alleges her uncles and aunt colluded with multiple other parties, including a trustee, who was appointed as a representative allegedly acting on Mary's behalf, to present "a stack of fraudulent valuations" in an effort to coerce her into signing a settlement agreement that "fleeced her of tens of millions of dollars or more."
"Through each of these schemes," the lawsuit says, "Defendants not only deliberately defrauded Mary out of what was rightfully hers, they also kept her in the dark about it—until now."
The lawsuit draws out how the alleged elaborate schemes were orchestrated and managed over time. Among the schemes outlined, the lawsuit alleges that the siblings also charged "exorbitant management fees, consulting fees, and salaries" from questionable companies connected to her aunt's financial holding companies.
"Each scheme was a fraud in itself, but they also built on one another. First, Defendants fraudulently siphoned value from Mary's interests to entities Defendants owned and controlled, while disguising those transfers as legitimate business transactions (the 'Grift')," the suit said.
"Second, Defendants fraudulently depressed the value of Mary's interests, and the net income they generated, in part through fraudulent appraisals and financial statements (the 'Devaluing')," the suit claims.
"Third, following Fred Sr.'s death, Defendants forced Mary to the negotiating table by threatening to bankrupt Mary's interests and by canceling the healthcare policy that was keeping [Mary's brother] Fred III's infant son alive, and once at the table Defendants presented Mary with a stack of fraudulent valuations and financial statements, and a written agreement that itself memorialized their fraud, and obtained her signature (the 'Squeeze-Out')."
"Through each of these schemes, Defendants not only deliberately defrauded Mary out of what was rightfully hers, they also kept her in the dark about it — until now," the suit says.
Mary Trump's lawsuit comes just months after the release of her book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man. The incriminating narrative chronicled Trump's upbringing with a number of "harrowing and salacious" stories about the president's life and how it contributed to who has become today.
Reprinted with permission from DCReport
As Donald Trump fights to keep his tax and business records from Manhattan prosecutors it's time to alert Americans that tax returns used to be public. Congress could make them public again. If it did every honest taxpayer would benefit.
In 1924 how much the rich paid the taxman was front-page news. Newspapers back then published lists that revealed who was really rich (John D Rockefeller stands out) and those who were either poseurs claiming great wealth yet paying little tax or were likely tax cheats who failed to report their income fully.
Under Trump, the odds are just one in 84,000 that the IRS will recommend prosecution for tax crimes, an all-time low.
Cheating is easy for people so rich who own corporations outright thanks to Congress, which since not long after 1924 has wrapped tax returns in extreme secrecy. That secrecy is a huge boon to rich business owners lacking in scruples and the opposite of how Congress treats workers, pensioners and most stock market investors.
Congress doesn't trust most Americans to file honest tax returns. That's why taxes are withheld from paychecks and pension checks before workers and retirees get paid. And Congress requires employers and pension plans to tell the IRS how much was paid.
Oct. 24, 1924
Stock market investors, in the last decade, have had their profits independently verified by investment houses because of a law Congress passed after I wrote about simple techniques for underreporting stock profits. Before this law, investors could easily inflate the price they paid when they bought stocks, improperly understating their reported profits.
In contrast, Congress trusts people who own their own businesses to fully report their incomes and never take inappropriate deductions. There is little independent verification. Donald Trump and the Trump Organization with its more than 500 separate businesses fit this model of unverified income to a T.
Independent verification works. IRS officials note that in the 1970s Congress required that all children be issued Social Security numbers. To take the child tax deduction, parents then had to name each child and list their Social Security number. Seven million American children suddenly disappeared, at least from tax returns.
Our tax system is riddled with unproductive loopholes, including a big one Trump lobbied for that benefits real estate owners who buy property entirely with borrowed money.
Reagan On Tax Fairness
President Ronald Reagan, who sought office as a tax rate cutter and then delivered, opposed such favors and argued against a system that "allows the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share."
Reagan complained that loopholes "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10% of his salary, and that's crazy," he said a 1985 speech at a Georgia high school.
"What we're trying to move against is institutionalized unfairness. We want to see that everyone pays their fair share, and no one gets a free ride. Our reasons? It's good for society when we all know that no one is manipulating the system to their advantage because they're rich and powerful. But it's also good for society when everyone pays something, that everyone makes a contribution," Reagan said.
Ever heard Trump say anything like that?
I've been researching tax secrecy and cheating because I'll be on an American Bar Association panel Oct. 2 with Professor George K. Yin of the University of Virginia, a former chief of staff for the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation. Pamela Fuller will moderate the panel, for which lawyers can get Continuing Legal Education credits. I'm not a lawyer but have taught tax and other legal issues at Syracuse University's College of Law since 2009.
What struck me while reviewing the secrecy issue was that restoring the law from 1924 would have saved our country a lot of pain, allowed prosecutors to do their work efficiently, and ended any doubt about whether Trump is an honest taxpayer or a criminal tax cheat who belongs behind bars.
Just peeling back part of the tax secrecy wrapper could go a long way to make our tax system fair while discouraging crooked tax filings.
Under existing law, the tax returns of corporation owners like Trump are untouched, unless the IRS audits. If not, whatever the business owner puts down is accepted as accurate. It's a system that invites cheating. Reports and studies by the IRS, the Taxpayer Advocate, the Government Accountability Office, experiments designed by economists and tests devised by state governments all show that integrity in taxes requires independent verification and enough audits to make the least honest comply out of fear of prosecution.
The problem for honest taxpayers is that Congress has for decades been reducing the size of the IRS. Since 1999, the economy has grown 70%, adjusted for inflation, while the number of tax auditors has been cut by a third and the number of tax collectors halved.
Few Tax Crime Cases
Our government has nearly stopped trying to identify criminal tax cheats. Under Trump, Americans filed nearly 154 million individual tax returns in 2018. The IRS recommended just 1,824 taxpayers for prosecution.
Under Trump, the odds are just one in 84,000 that the IRS will recommend prosecution for tax crimes, an all-time low. Such tiny odds make tax cheating arguably the lowest risk white-collar crime in America. During the Obama years, tax enforcement was more rigorous than under President George W. Bush, but only moderately more so.
The record low number of IRS criminal referrals under Trump is less than half the 3,896 cases referred for prosecution in 2014, the peak year for Obama administration actions against suspected tax cheats. In both years most of the cases recommended for indictment involved drug traffickers or corrupt politicians, not business owners who cheat our government.
Prosecutions are plummeting even faster. Federal tax prosecutions in 2020 were down more than 73% from 2015, according to data that by federal court order the IRS must turn over to Syracuse University researchers.
The collapse of tax law enforcement has a silver lining, sort of. The shriveling tax law enforcement numbers indicate that in this one area Trump is no hypocrite since he's not pushing our government to prosecute others for things he has done.
And Trump at least files tax returns. More than 800,000 high-income Americans didn't file a tax return in 2013, 2014, and 2015. The awful truth is that the IRS is not even attempting to contact a half million of these prosperous tax scofflaws, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration revealed earlier this year.
How many high-income Americans failed to file tax returns during the Trump era won't be known unless the Inspector General looks at the issue again. But does anyone believe that Trumpian rhetoric encourages integrity in our tax system?
Trump is not solely to blame here. Congress has for decades been trimming the IRS budget. The odds of audit under President Ronald Reagan in 1988 were around ten percent; today it's around one percent. Reagan also wanted and got corporations to pay higher taxes under the 1986 Tax Reform Act.
The combination of few audits, inadequate staff to pursue high-income people who don't even file tax returns and the secrecy provisions of the tax code are a boon to rich business owners short on scruples. The question we should ask ourselves is why do we elect lawmakers in both parties who trust business owners but not the rest of us? Why do we tolerate rules that help one segment of the rich cheat on their taxes?
Rampant Cheating at Top
Reviving the law that made tax returns public, or at least modifying it to partially back the secrecy wrapper, would go a long way to reducing the rampant tax cheating at the top. So, would authorizing the IRS to let any inquiring citizen know whether any other person has filed a tax return.
Tax secrecy is so prophylactic that the IRS cannot even say if someone is under audit.
Candidate Trump claimed he was under audit, citing it as an excuse for withholding his tax returns. It was a phony argument since the release of a filed tax return has zero impact on the return or the taxes owed.
Trump was asked to produce audit letters. He ignored the requests.
An IRS audit letter is an anodyne document that reveals only what year and what type of tax return is being examined. Thus, Trump's claim could have applied to just one of his hundreds of businesses or to, say, the value he put down on a gift to his youngest son,
Given Trump's thoroughly documented history of lying there's no reason to believe he was in fact under audit.
The Manhattan prosecutors already have Trump's New York State tax returns and the information that the IRS routinely shares with state tax authorities. The grand jury subpoenas Trump is fighting are for records of his accounting firm, Mazars USA. Those records, including the emails and draft returns, would be crucial to nailing a tax crimes case against Trump, his three oldest children, the Trump Organization and perhaps others who enabled their conduct.
The Manhattan case appears to be a garden variety tax cheating case notable only in that it evidently went on year after year. The subpoenas are for records dating to 2011, which is long before Trump assumed office in 2017. It is also long before he made hush-money payments to a porn star and a Playboy model.
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges in connection with the hush money payments and other actions he testified that he took at Trump's direction, Trump is "Individual 1" in that federal case. Trump was not indicted because of the Justice Department's policy is to not indict sitting presidents.
There's good reason to believe Trump knows the accounting records he wants to keep secret will reveal he is a serial tax cheat deserving of a long prison sentence.
First, Trump lost two income tax fraud trials over his 1984 state and city tax returns, a story I broke four years ago. The trials showed that Trump not only fabricated more than $600,000 of phony tax deductions, but he also altered one return to put his tax accountant's name on the return he filed. The accountant, Jack Mitnick who was also Trump's longtime tax lawyer, testified that he never signed the tax return in evidence.
Second, Trump has gone to extreme lengths to hide accounting records. Trump and his crew came up with one absurd excuse after another to hide records of the Grand Hyatt Hotel from New York City auditors. Eventually, the auditors proved that Trump tried to cheat the city out of almost $3 million for a single year, as I reported in The Making of Donald Trump.
Third, the tax and business documents that Mary Trump, the president's niece, gave to The New York Times showed he and his siblings are calculated tax cheats. The president's older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, resigned from the federal bench to shut down a judicial inquiry into whether she is a tax cheat. (A nice privilege that judges grant themselves, terminating ethics investigation if a judge who resigns.)
Tax secrecy is a modern concept. In ancient Athens, where democracy began, public officials had their transactions recorded in stone, and individuals who failed to keep accounting records were not allowed to leave Athens.
It's time to embrace the wisdom of the ancients. Tax secrecy benefits cheaters, not honest taxpayers. Donald Trump's fear that prosecutors might see his tax and business records makes that clear.
Today we return to the Lincoln Project's "Story Hour" for Episode Two – which features a fresh excerpt from Mary Trump's Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man on the theme of immigration.
Reading the tale of Trump's own immigrant forebears is actor Robert Dobson. He is not amused by the contrast between that family history and the bigoted nativist policies enacted by this administration.
But you will certainly be amused by Mary's skillful trolling of her awful uncle.
Just click (and share).
This week those scamps at the Lincoln Project launched a new video trolling campaign against Donald Trump that they're calling "Story Hour." The first episode, timed to coincide with an event that is getting deep under Trump's skin, features an excerpt from Mary Trump's runaway bestseller Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man.
Her none-too-flattering phrases are lent a razor edge in the voice of actor Robert Dobson -- who just happens to be a black man with an eloquent voice, elegant clothes, and a large, sinewy physique. He raises a sharp eyebrow too.
Enjoy, because Trump certainly won't.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
Mary Trump, the president's niece, revealed in an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow that she has heard her uncle use the n-word and anti-Semitic slurs.
A clip of the interview aired on the network ahead of Maddow's show at 9 p.m. Eastern on Thursday night.
Maddow noted that Mary Trump recounted in a recent interview about her on the president that racism was common in their family. The host asked Mary whether she ever heard President Trump specifically use this kind of language.
"Of course, I did," Mary Trump said. "I don't think that should surprise anybody given how virulently racist he is today."
Maddow then got specific: "Have you heard the president use the n-word?"
"Yeah," said Mary Trump.
"And anti-Semitic slurs, specifically?"
"Yes," said Mary Trump.
As Mary Trump noted, there's nothing really surprising in these admissions. In 1973, Trump's company was found by the U.S. Justice Department to be discriminating against Black applicants seeking apartments. And John O'Donnell reported in his book on Trump that the president once said:
Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it's probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It's not anything they can control.
Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer, has also recounted that Trump was extremely racist in private. He told Congress:
He once asked me if I could name a country run by a black person that wasn't a "shithole." This was when Barack Obama was President of the United States.
While we were once driving through a struggling neighborhood in Chicago, he commented that only black people could live that way.
And, he told me that black people would never vote for him because they were too stupid.
Nevertheless, Trump has claimed he is the "least racist person in the world."
Watch the clip of Mary Trump below:
Maddow: Have you heard the President use the n-word? Mary Trump: Yeah Maddow: And anti-Semitic slurs specifically?… https://t.co/ognkGcbUNm— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn Torabi)1594938345.0
This story has been updated to clarify the source of Mary Trump's discussion of racism in her family.
Reprinted with permission from DCReport
Mary Trump's book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, deserves your close attention. Donald Trump's niece has two advantages that the small band of us who have long studied Trump closely do not.
First, she's family. No one knows you like your family. Your family knows how you behaved at crucial moments when life-changing events occur—births, deaths, weddings, divorces and medical emergencies—as well as mundane events like Saturday breakfast.
Mary, the 55-year-old daughter of Donald Trump's dead older brother, Fred Jr., is the first Trump family insider to go public about Donald's behavior since he announced his run for the presidency more than five years ago. Her most chilling anecdote is about how as Fred Jr. was rushed to a hospital where he died of an alcoholism-induced heart attack, Donald and his sister Elizabeth went to the movies. The parents, Fred Sr. and Mary Anne, stayed home.
She describes Donald as so desperate to avoid his father's wrath that he never developed a conscience, only a feral instinct for self-preservation.
Second, Mary is a clinical psychologist with a doctorate. Her insights are informed by her deep education into how psyches develop and, in the case of her uncle, how cold, cruel and brutally demanding parenting warps personalities. She describes Donald as so desperate to avoid his father's wrath—which destroyed her father—that he never developed a conscience, only a feral instinct for self-preservation.
There's also a good reason to trust what Mary writes because the anecdotes and observations in published excerpts are all consistent with my decades of reporting on Trump as well as the penetrating works of Timothy O'Brien and Harry Hurt III and my good friend, the late Wayne Barrett, the first journalist to expose Trump's con games.
Generations of Schemers
The book, officially being published July 14, is also consistent with Gwenda Blair's richly detailed 2001 book The Trumps. Blair showed how the Trumps have been schemers all the way back to 1885, when Friedrich Drumpf fled the German draft, came to America, changed his name, got rich running bordellos and lied to get his American citizenship.
Friedrich died a century ago during the flu pandemic that killed 50 million people worldwide. That his grandson has no understanding of the science of pandemics is itself a revealing insight into the utter lack of traditional family values in the self-proclaimed "very stable genius" who now resides in the White House.
The Trump White House, in a statement, attacked Mary's book as a work motivated by "financial gain." That is a most curious charge to be leveled by Donald Trump's minions given his lifelong indulgence and avarice and his endless false boasts that he is a multibillionaire.
Mary Trump, by any standard, is a very rich woman, according to none other than Donald Trump. Back two decades ago, when he cut off health care to the newborn son of Mary's brother, Fred III, Donald did so to leverage a settlement that would entitle him to more money from his father's estate. Today, Mary claims Donald and the rest of the family vastly undercounted the Fred Trump estate, a fraud she says that nullifies a non-disclosure agreement she signed then.
Donald, who taunted and abused his troubled brother, declared back then that the two children of his late older brother lived luxurious lives thanks to his father. Mary's book says Trump often sees people only in monetary terms, something I observed in many conversations with him.
But that Trump would dictate to his personal publicists, who are paid by taxpayers as White House press staff, to denounce making money from a book is a reminder that Donald Trump lives in the moment and assumes no one remembers the past or checks the record.
'Cheating Is a Way of Life'
Trump, I have often explained, lies as easily as the rest of us breathe. Mary writes that for her uncle "cheating is a way of life." She says he even hired a pal named Joe Shapiro to take his SATs, something hard to accomplish today but easily done in the 1960s when photo IDs were rarities.
She writes of her joy—something Trump has never known—in collecting 19 boxes of Trump family financial documents and turning them over to three New York Times reporters. Those family business records furnished the basis of the newspaper's Pulitzer Prize-winning 2018 expose establishing that Trump and his surviving siblings are, like their father Fred, major league serial tax cheats.
She also quotes Trump's elder sister Maryanne, who did his homework for him, calling Donald "a clown" in 2015 after he announced his campaign for president. Maryanne spent years as a federal judge but resigned to stop the judicial ethics investigation into her role in the years of Trump family tax cheating.
Here's one more compelling reason to believe Mary Trump. Donald, through his little brother Robert, tried to block publication of the book, just as he did John Bolton's revealing look at Trump's incompetent and dangerous actions on national security. Both times he failed.
Like my 2016 biography, The Making of Donald Trump, his niece's book is a work of reliable information that he desperately hopes you won't read because nothing is more dangerous to Donald than accuracy and truth.
The family has known all this for decades. The small band of journalists who have studied him closely also have known this for decades and reported it.
Now at long last, one brave Trump family member has stood up to tell the truths that Donald Trump has strived to kept quiet with bribes, litigation and payoffs.
Pay attention, please.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
As hard as her uncle, Robert Trump, fought to prevent its release, Mary L. Trump's new tell-all book is on track for a July 14 release. And although the release of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man is still a week away, more and more details about its content are emerging from reporters who have received copies of the memoir.
In her book, Mary Trump speaks candidly not only about her uncle, President Donald Trump, but about other members of her family as well — including her grandfather Fred Trump, Sr. and her father Fred Trump, Jr.
Here are five of the most stunning details from the new book by the president's 55-year-old niece.
1. Mary Trump leaked 'hoards of' financial information about her family to the New York Times
"President Trump's niece reveals how she leaked hoards of confidential Trump family financial documents to the New York Times in an effort to expose her uncle, whom she portrays as a dangerous sociopath," According to Axios reporter Jonathan Swan.
Swan reports that when Times reporter Susanne Craig showed up at her door, Mary Trump "initially turned Craig away, telling her that she didn't talk to reporters." But she reconsidered, deciding to work with the Times.
"Mary Trump reveals how she smuggled a motherlode of financial documents out of the law firm, Farrell Fritz," Swan notes.
Mary Trump, the President's niece, writes that Trump "destroyed my father. I can't let him destroy my country," in… https://t.co/e9WVddG6vK— CNN Politics (@CNN Politics)1594137509.0
2. Donald Trump's world view was shaped by a desire to avoid his father's disapproval
In the Washington Post, reporters Shane Harris and Michael Kranish explain that Donald Trump's "view of the world was shaped by his desire during childhood to avoid his father's disapproval, according to the niece, Mary L. Trump."
Mary Trump paints a damning picture of Fred Trump, Sr., saying that he came to envy his son's "confidence and brazenness."
3. Donald Trump slammed Fred Trump, Jr. for not devoting more time to the family business
"The memoir chronicles Fred, Jr.'s fruitless efforts to earn his father's respect as an employee, and how his younger brother Donald reliably ridiculed him as a failure who spent too much time following his passion of aviation, and not enough on the family business," according to Harris and Kranish.
4. Donald Trump allegedly paid someone to take an SAT for him
Although Donald Trump attended the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia during his youth, he wasn't known for being a great student. In the New York Times, Maggie Haberman reports that according to his niece's book, Donald Trump didn't take his Scholastic Achievement Test himself.
Haberman explains: "As a high school student in Queens, Ms. Trump writes, Donald Trump paid someone to take a pre-collegiate test, the SAT, on his behalf. The high score the proxy earned for him, Ms. Trump adds, helped the young Mr. Trump to later gain admittance as an undergraduate to the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton Business School."
🚨Mary Trump alleges Pres Trump paid someone to take his SAT, his sister (a retired federal judge) was baffled by hi… https://t.co/spHVwyj5JE— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche Alcindor)1594139163.0
5. Fred Trump, Sr. was 'brutal to his namesake'
Haberman reports that Fred Trump, Sr. treated Donald Trump with much more respect than he showed to Mary Trump's father, Fred Trump, Jr. The Times reporter explains: "It has long been part of the Trump family's lore that the eldest child of Fred Trump Sr., Fred Trump Jr., who was better known as Freddy, was the black sheep of the dynasty. Freddy Trump was a handsome, garrulous man and a heavy drinker who, after a miserable experience working for his father, left his job in real estate to pursue a passion for flying, becoming a pilot for Trans World Airlines."
She continued: "Fred Trump Sr. could be brutal to his namesake, shouting at him once as a group of employees looked on, 'Donald is worth ten of you,' Ms. Trump writes,"
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