May 12, 2017

You can no longer pretend that this isn't Watergate 2, Tom Brokaw.

President Trump's lawyers on Friday said that Trump's last 10 years of tax returns do not reveal "any income of any type from Russian sources" with some exceptions but refused to release copies of his tax returns to verify.

The letter says that "with a few exceptions," Trump's tax returns show no equity investment by Russians into Trump entities or any debt owed by Trump to lenders. Trump did receive income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow and a property sold to a Russian billionaire for $95 million.

The report sparked backlash online as many questioned the "with few exceptions" caveat and continued calls for Trump to release his tax returns.

To quote Richard Milhous Nixon: "Let me make this perfectly clear."

This is exactly like 1974, when Nixon released edited transcripts of the Watergate tapes, in an attempt to get around calls for him to release the tapes themselves. Once the actual tapes were subpoenaed and The Supreme Court said he had no executive privilege standing to protect the tapes from being released, the smoking gun showing he ordered the Watergate break-in was made public and Nixon resigned.

Without the actual tax returns, we can't verify anything Trump's tax attorneys say. They are not under oath, though they could be disbarred for lying to Lindsay Graham. The statement from the attorneys also conveniently ignores any shell corporations (America First Except for Vlad, LLC?) that might have investments in Trump properties, and any deals Trump's children and in-laws might have with Russian investors.

It's a buncha BS, this Friday letter news dump. And when, sooner or later but inevitably, an independent prosecutor subpoenas the tax returns directly from Internal Revenue, I bet five rubles Donald resigns that day.

Update: There really are not enough facepalms to take us through this day. It turns out the law firm that churned out this letter was honored as Russia Law Firm of the Year.

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