That Sound You Year Is Donald Trump Screaming at the Mar-a-Lago Pool Boys Over His Tax Returns and Possible Prison Time
It was a rough Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago this year, and Christmas is not looking much better—unless Donald Trump accusing Santa of being a “mole for radical left Democrats” and throwing a plate of cookies and milk against the wall is considered standard holiday cheer in Palm Beach.
On Tuesday, one day after the January 6 committee recommended the Department of Justice charge the ex-president with four major crimes, Punchbowl News reported that the House panel “has begun extensively cooperating with the Justice Department’s special counsel charged with overseeing investigations into former president Donald Trump.” That special counsel, Jack Smith, reportedly sent the committee a letter on December 5, “requesting all of the panel’s materials from the 18-month probe,” and beginning last week, the panel started “sending Smith’s team documents and transcripts,” with plans to share more documents and transcripts in the coming days, according to Punchbowl News’ source.
The reported cooperation marks a new front in the DOJ’s criminal investigation of Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election results, and the insurrection that followed; previously, the January 6 committee had chosen not to share its findings with the department. Now, the committee’s year-plus of legwork, including interviews with more than 1,000 witnesses, could prove extremely valuable to Smith’s investigation. Earlier this month, CNN reported that, while some in Trump’s inner circle viewed Smith’s appointment by Attorney General Merrick Garland as a positive development for the ex-president’s freedom, others were worried he was brought in as a “hit man” and is likely to indict the guy.
In other less-than-positive developments for the 2024 presidential candidate, the House Ways and Means Committee met on Tuesday behind closed doors to decide whether or not to publicly release six years of Trump’s tax returns, which it obtained earlier this month to the former guy’s extreme chagrin. Trump, of course, has spent years going to extreme lengths to keep his tax documents under lock and key: He invented a rule that he couldn’t release them because they were under audit; he begged the Supreme Court to save him; and he installed a Treasury secretary who effectively took a vow to hide every copy of the returns in his anal cavity—before the Treasury ultimately let Congress get its hands on them.
While we don’t yet know how the committee members will vote, Republicans have insisted that releasing the returns could lead to horrible, horrible acts of transparency.
As for what is actually in the documents, The New York Times previously noted that it’s “not clear whether the tax returns will contain major new revelations,” since we’ve already learned a tremendous amount about Trump’s finances over the last several years. In 2019, for instance, Michael Cohen, the then president’s former attorney, told Congress that Trump regularly inflated and deflated the value of his assets when it benefited him. And earlier this year, the New York attorney general’s office sued Trump and his three eldest children on accusations of lying to lenders, insurers, and tax authorities about said assets. (At the time the suit was filed, an attorney for Trump insisted that “absolutely no wrongdoing has taken place.”)
Meanwhile, earlier this month, Trump’s family business was found guilty of multiple counts of tax fraud (among other things). And then, of course, there’s the 2018 story from the Times—which won a Pulitzer—revealing that Trump amassed much of his fortune through “dubious tax schemes,” some of which included “instances of outright fraud.” (At the time of publication, a lawyer for Trump insisted that “The New York Times’ allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100% false and highly defamatory. There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone.” He added that if there was fraud or tax evasion, Trump had nothing to do with it, saying: “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters.”) Two years later, the same news organization revealed that Trump had paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, another $750 in 2017, and bupkis in 10 of the previous 15 years.