Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Visiting Column #13 -- Tax Returns, Subpoenas and Stalin

As I start this, the Democrats in Congress, through their various committees, are trying to do a subpoena of President Trump's tax returns for some number of years back.  They are threatening to hold someone or other in contempt if they don't get their way.

At the same time, over in Moscow, Vladimir Putin is doing what Putin does, whatever that may be, but I am assuming that along the way it involves (or includes) taking care of his opposition one way or the other.  After all, he has no real challenge to his power, so he can do as he likes, and that includes arranging for opposition to disappear somehow.

I don't think we want to get there in this country.

Barack Obama tried, allowing his FBI to be corrupted into becoming an espionage agency on an American political candidate who opposed his hand-picked successor, Hillary Clinton.  The political cruds at the top of the FBI used a fraudulent opposition-research document as an excuse to spy on Americans even without a crime being suspected or, as we now know, having been committed.

And now the Democrats in the House are trying to pull a very Putin-like trick, having failed to keep Donald Trump from being elected, and then failing at trying to use the FBI's corrupt leadership to get him out of office.  They are searching for a crime where none is known to exist.

Now I suppose that I'd rather have seen Barack Obama's transcript in college, than Trump's 1040s.  After all, I understand college transcripts, where I'm less convinced on the tax returns that I could properly interpret them, even though I have a lot of experience in that area -- enough to know what is not going to be found there.

Donald Trump was part owner of a huge construction company for most of his life.  That was his primary source of income and, given the vagaries of the construction biz, it can be safely assumed that his income ran all over the place, maybe $500 million one year, $1.5 billion the next, $400 million the year after, and so on.

But that income came through the business.  I assume he was paid a huge salary that was a regular amount, and then on top of that, he would have paid taxes on income that flowed through to him depending on how the Trump Organization is organized as a corporation (it is an LLC, so I assume net income flows to its owners).  Plus, there were books and other revenue streams as well.

I assume that there is almost nothing that a tax return could provide as far as insight into the business, unless they were to try to get their hands on the business returns, which is a whole 'nother thing.

So at what point is someone going to stand up and ask the logical two questions:

(1) What crime, specifically, is the president suspected of having committed, when?
(2) What compelling evidence exists of that crime that warrants subpoena of personal information?

You see, absent an actual crime, Congress has no business looking for that kind of material and, given the intelligence of the Democrats' leading voice, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, it can be very, very safely assumed that they have no more capacity to understand a tax return than my cat does.  And I have a very intelligent cat.  Does AOC even realize that all the dealings of the Trump Organization would be totally absent from his personal return, save the little detail from the Schedule K-1?  Does she know what a K-1 is?

But it's the absence of a crime that bothers me.  This is not Putin's Russia, and it's not Stalin's Soviet Union, and Putin learned from those who learned from Stalin. 

The very first time that a Congress goes off on a "Here's the person, find us a crime" investigation, it sets a precedent that such behavior is OK, and once it is used by one party, it is fair game for another.  I would like to think that the Republicans are better than that, but if it took that to unwind the dirt of the Clinton Foundation, I'm not sure they could hold back in a future situation.

I can read a tax return, my friends.  I used to prepare them professionally, and I know what is and is not in them.  Having heard what some of the morons on the left say they think they'll find in Trump's 1040 tells me that they're going to have to invent a lot of interpretations that aren't there to explain what I expect will be found -- what won't be.

But then again, when the economy tanked under their president and roared under the current one, I suppose they have to do something.

Copyright 2019 by Robert Sutton
Like what you read here?  There are over 1,000 posts from Bob at, and after four years of writing a new one daily, he still posts thoughts once in a while as "visiting columns", no longer the "prolific essayist" he was through 2018, but still around.  Appearance, advertising, sponsorship and interview inquiries cheerfully welcomed at or on Twitter at @rmosutton

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