At no point have I ever seen Trump look humble, reluctant, deferential, or even somewhat afraid, with one exception. On the night of his gigantic, historic, whatever adjective he uses now to describe the acceptance speech upon hearing the results of the election, Trump appeared to be in shock, and afraid. Of course, this would be a perfectly normal reaction for many people upon winning the office of the presidency. Except for two other things. One, of course, is that this man will never stoop to looking humble if it all possible, no matter how appropriate, and two, at the same time that he looked shocked, he looked totally unprepared, no real speech, the family rushed together spontaneously, Melania looking petrified and pissed. He never planned to win, and it’s fairly obvious now why.
I long believed that the failure to disclose any real tax returns, even one year’s worth, stood out like the biggest red flag ever hung. But in that moment – one that many other people remember and saw a similar man – I could tell that he knew, right then, that the gig was up. One cannot be president, and hide what he has, and continues to, hide.
Of course, there is a lot we didn’t know in that moment, first being that a lapdog Republican party would chase out any remaining skeptics and go full in the tank for the man. Trump’s shock hit our radar, but Devin Nunes did not. It has taken well over two years, near three, since that first night, but the circle is getting tighter, the red-light flashes ominously, the flags of red now sputter everywhere, and he has fewer places to hide.
The proverbial iceberg, that ten percent that can be seen above the water line, can now be seen in the clear light of day. According to a ground-breaking Huffington Post report, Trump has filed diametrically opposite financial disclosure forms in the U.K. versus here in the U.S., all concerning the exact same properties. And, it is laid out with shocking clarity that we can all understand. According to the report:
Trump claimed in his 2018 U.S. filing that his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts were each worth more than $50 million. For that same time period, he filed balance sheets with the United Kingdom government showing that their combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds ― the equivalent of $64.8 million at the exchange rate on Dec. 31, 2017, the date of the last U.K. filing available.
The “filing” referenced is the U.S. financial disclosure form required by law, though not to be confused with his taxes, it is a form which – if it contains an outright lie – is a crime, a felony, punishable by five years in prison.
The difference between the two is that with respect to taxes in the U.K., he is far better off disclosing debt, which makes one believe it is closer to the truth.
His 2018 “public financial disclosure” filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics also claims those two resorts earned him “income” of $23.8 million. His filings with the U.K. Companies House office in Edinburgh for that period showed the resorts had actually lost 4.6 million pounds ― equal to $6.3 million.
His U.S. disclosure statement also fails to mention $199.5 million in loans Trump has made to those resorts: $54.9 million from him personally to Trump International, Scotland in Aberdeenshire; $144.6 million from his trust to Trump Turnberry in Ayrshire.
Let me summarize all of that. In a situation where disclosing the actual truth would reward him financially – the U.K. forms that would be less newsworthy than U.S. forms, he claimed to be at least eight figures total in the red, while at the same time signed near identical disclosures in the United States – disclosures that are not taxable, he claimed to be eight figures in the black.
Remember Michael Cohen? “He inflates worth, and then deflates it, always a lie.”
Now, let’s all take a breath, and bet each other which figures he would use in his United States’ tax form, not the financial filing referenced above, but his actual taxes. Would he use the under-water red figure, the red figure that saves him tax dollars, the negative number that remains undisclosed, or the public black one that requires a big tax payment? Here is a hint, which disclosure has Trump fought most aggressively the entire time he has been in the public presidential spotlight? Disclosing his taxes, of course, because even the morsel of truth in them might shatter the myth.
The “rich, successful, businessman” myth is cratering, and it is cratering in a way which threatens not only his presidency, but his faux empire, his brand, indeed, even his criminal liability exposure.
I do not like the incessant calls to imprison Trump that come from us on the left, even though I think anyone else would certainly face severe consequences upon discovery, even though he may well absolutely deserve it, and even though I may well have written the exact thing myself too many times. I just, well, I have gotten to a point where I think we sound a little too much like the Right in the unending plea to jail Hillary.
But it goes much further than not wanting to sound like the Right. No, I am hesitant because, somehow, the rich always avoid justice – and Trump has sufficient resources to qualify, no matter how underwater – and so the constant demand could easily look like a failure when Trump somehow, eventually, squiggles through the net and claims ultimate redemption.
Even more importantly, I am extremely wary of giving the Republicans a precedent. Does anyone think, that if Trump is imprisoned by the incoming administration (because HIS certainly won’t do it), that the next Republican president isn’t going to bring criminal charges against the past Democrat?
I do not say that because I fear for that Democrat. No, I would fear for my country. Because jailing political opponents is something that happens in countries where the leaders stand on a balcony in a military uniform, with a cigar, firing shots in the air. That’s why.
To me, saving the country is worth losing three years prison time for Trump, no matter how well-earned.
Moreover, it is wholly unnecessary. It is the disclosure he fears the most, not the crime. His “brand” will take a massive hit upon disclosure, and his brand is the only real asset backing him up. He may well also fear that the money keeping him afloat, fronting that great lifestyle, is money that others, ones not interested in criminal charges but certainly interested in redemption, might want “undisclosed” more than him. But even aside from that, the “work” in Trump’s life has always been about maintaining the brand, which depends upon a myth. Disclose the myth, ruin the brand, decimate the man.
Really, what do you think truly, at its root, would embarrass Trump more? Going to prison for two years at Club Fed to have his book ghost-written, claiming the Democrats jammed him politically and that it is all bullshit? Or, losing his wealth through multiple bankruptcies, and having to live a life with no Mara Lagos, no personal 757s, no Democrats to blame, and a ruined “brand”?
Sometimes fear can be the most foreboding isolation in existence, its own kind of prison, and he would live the rest of his life in fear, fear he would never come back, fear he had lost it all, fear that he actually owed the Democratic administration a thank you … fear that the myth is shattered, and now what?
I say, screw the whole “jail Trump” thing – at least for now, at least on what we know now, which is always subject to change – and only demand the worst possible punishment for Trump, naked truth, inescapable truth, brand and myth shattering truth.