Witch hunt watch

1. Trump’s charitable foundation has been described as “a personal piggy bank for his businesses, legal bills and presidential campaign.” (Albany Times-Union, 12/19) Why should we care? Because donations to a charitable foundation are tax deductible. Using that money to benefit him personally, rather than for any philanthropic purpose, enabled Trump to illegally deduct those dollars from his income tax, as “charitable contributions.” A fraud upon the government and a theft from taxpayers.

Examples of disbursements by this so-called “charity” included $100,000 to settle a claim against Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort and $158,000 to settle one against the Trump National Golf Club. I have no details about those claims — likely they involved more of the fraudulent rip-offs that were Trump’s stock in trade. So he settled those frauds by means of a further fraud.

The “charity” was also suborned by Trump’s presidential campaign to make at least five $100,000 grants to Iowa groups in the days before the political caucuses there. Political contributions or expenditures are not tax-deductible, and not allowed for a charitable foundation. (This scam additionally violated campaign finance laws.)

Due to these abuses, Trump’s “charity” is being shut down, with Trump and his sons barred from serving on any charitable boards.

We already knew the 2016 election was subverted by Russian hacking and disinformation. This criminal mis-use of Trump’s charitable foundation is one more way in which he corrupted the election and procured the presidency by fraud.

A footnote: The Washington Post reported that the foundation’s remaining assets include a football helmet signed by Tim Tebow, bought for $12,000, and two paintings of the business genius Trump that cost $30,000; “the three items are now valued at $975.”

2. The New York Times recently ran an extensive report on Trump’s business history, littered with lies, cheating, frauds, and rip-offs. The Times detailed, in particular, how his family cheated the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars in estate tax on his father’s fortune. How exactly? Fred Trump ran a real estate firm owning many properties. Donald set up a fake company supposedly in the business of providing services (like maintenance, accounting, etc) for such properties — and falsely billing the father’s firm for those supposed services. The real aim was to move money from Fred’s empire into Donald’s pocket, improperly avoiding the estate taxes that would have been due if Fred had just left him the money.* This was actually a double fraud, because Fred’s business could deduct these payments from its own tax returns, as though they were legitimate business outlays.

A footnote: Trump lied in insisting he got nothing from his father except a small loan that was repaid. (It was not.)

3. Michael Cohen, at Trump’s direction and using Trump’s money, bribed two women to bury their stories of adulterous affairs with Trump. Trump originally lied that he knew nothing about it. Now he admits otherwise, yet he insists it was merely a private matter and not illegal. But the Justice Department thought differently, and Cohen is going to prison for these crimes.

Here’s why: the payments were made shortly before the election for the obvious purpose of affecting its outcome. The idea that it was to spare his wife is preposterous; as if Trump cared; and Melania knew what she was marrying. No, these were plainly political expenditures, coming under the purview of federal election law. Which limits such contributions and requires their reporting. Trump’s secret payments were a serious crime.

This too corrupted the 2016 election which Trump won by fraud.

A footnote: Rudy Giuliani dismissed the significance of these crimes by saying nobody died. This was immediately followed, on the radio news, by a report on the death of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl, Jakelin Caal, in the custody of ICE, resulting from the inhuman policy of this fraudulently elected president.

The foregoing is by no means a full list of Trump’s misdeeds. There’s also, for example, the Trump University fraud, which he paid $25 million to settle. And now the corruption of his inaugural budget is under investigation. And of course also the Mueller stuff. Some will doubtless say, “They all do it.” No sir; not like this. (Anything the Clintons may have done pales in comparison.) In all the annals of U.S. political history, Trump’s record of pervasive criminal fraud is utterly without precedent. But the really shocking thing is that 40+% of Americans still view him favorably.

Drain the swamp.

Lock him up.

Make America great again.

* Living parents can give children gifts, free of tax, but above $15,000 annually they incur a gift tax; this is to prevent avoiding the estate tax via gifts.

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