1/ Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and $0 in federal income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years because his businesses routinely reported losing more money than they made, according to two decades of tax data obtained by the New York Times. Trump further reduced his tax bill by claiming a $72.9 million tax refund in 2010 when he declared $1.4 billion in businesses losses, which the IRS has challenged. If auditors disallow Trump’s refund, he could be forced to pay more than $100 million. Trump is personally responsible for more than $300 million in loans that have to be paid off over the next four years. Most of Trump’s signature businesses, including his golf courses, reported losing large sums of money, which have helped to lower his tax bills. Trump also classified personal expenses, including his residences, aircraft, $70,000 in hairstyling for TV appearances, and more than $95,000 for hair and makeup services for Ivanka Trump, as business expenses. The tax data suggests that Trump also lowered his tax liability by paying his children as consultants for the businesses. As president, Trump has earned $73 million abroad in his first two years from foreign sources, despite pledging that he wouldn’t pursue new foreign deals while president. The records, however, do not reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia. In response to the report, an attorney for the Trump Organization said that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” but only took direct issue with the amount of taxes Trump had paid. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / Daily Beast / The Guardian / New York Times / CBS News)

  • [Analysis] Revelations and takeaways from Trump’s tax records. Trump has paid no federal income taxes for much of the past two decades; this tax avoidance sets him apart from most other affluent Americans; Trump’s tax avoidance also sets him apart from past presidents; a large refund has been crucial to his tax avoidance; the $72.9 million refund has since become the subject of a long-running battle with the IRS; Trump classifies much of the spending on his personal lifestyle as the cost of business; Trump’s estate in Westchester County, N.Y., typifies his aggressive definition of business expenses; Trump’s companies set aside about 20% of income for unexplained “consulting fees”; Trump’s businesses lose large amounts of money; the most successful part of the Trump business has been his personal brand; Trump’s unprofitable companies help reduce his tax bill; with money from “The Apprentice,” Trump went on his biggest buying spree since the 1980s; his 2016 presidential campaign may have been partly an attempt to resuscitate his brand; the presidency has helped his business; many of his businesses continue to lose money; Trump will soon face several major bills that could put further pressure on his finances; and Trump is personally on the hook for some of these bills. (New York Times / Associated Press / The Guardian)

  • [Analysis] What Trump was trying to hide by holding back his tax returns. “For years, the political world has speculated on what Trump was trying to hide by holding back his returns, and by falsely claiming that he can’t release them until the IRS finishes an extended audit. Was it that he paid no income taxes at all in some years? Was it that he was far less successful a businessman than he let on? Was he claiming legally dubious deductions? The answer, it turns out, is all of the above.” (Vox)

  • [Analysis] What we know — and still want to know — about Trump’s company. (Washington Post)

  • [Analysis] Trump’s legal risks once he’s out of office. “Trump took aggressive tax positions and that the IRS is challenging a $72.9 million refund claimed a decade ago in an audit that has yet to be resolved. If the Internal Revenue Service ultimately prevails, Trump could be liable for millions of dollars in penalties. He potentially could be subject to criminal prosecution if the IRS mounted a case that he knowingly violated the law, though that would be very difficult to do.” (Bloomberg)

  • [Analysis] Here’s how much you had to make in 2017 to pay more income tax than Trump: A single adult without kids making $18,000 would have paid more. (Vox / Washington Post)

  • How Trump’s taxes compare to those of other presidents. Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal income tax his first year in office, George W. Bush’s first-year federal tax bill was $250,221, and prior presidents each paid tens of thousands of dollars in taxes during the first years of their administrations. Trump paid $750. (Washington Post)

  • [Read] The New York Times Editor’s Note on the Trump tax investigation. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 806: Trump asked Mitch McConnell to prioritize confirming the chief counsel of the IRS earlier this year. White House aides reportedly insisted that the confirmation of Michael Desmond was more important than the 2017 tax cuts and the nomination of William Barr as attorney general. Trump told McConnell on February 5th that he was worried Desmond would withdraw his nomination if the Senate didn’t act soon. Desmond was confirmed two weeks later. (New York Times)

2/ Trump dismissed the report of his tax avoidance as “totally fake news,” “made up,” and “illegally obtained.” Trump also suggested that he “paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.” When asked about the report, Trump said “I’ve paid a lot,” but did not specify how much. He – again – promised that “it’ll all be revealed” after the completion of an IRS audit, which he has said for years. Nothing, however, prevents Trump from releasing his tax returns. In a 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump said not paying federal income tax “makes me smart.” (NPR / NBC News / Politico / USA Today)

  • In 1990, Trump attempted to change his father’s will, who’s mental state was in decline. At the time, creditors threatened to force Trump into personal bankruptcy and his wife at the time, Ivana, wanted “a billion dollars” in a divorce settlement. Trump sent an accountant and a lawyer to tell his father he needed to immediately sign a document changing his will. Fred was 85 years old at the time and within months was formally diagnosed with “early stages of dementia.” (Washington Post)

  • In the late 1990s, Trump tried to do business with Moscow’s late mayor Yury Luzhkov as part of a broader push to secure other real estate deals in Russia, which Trump was still pursuing as recently as 2016. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Trump repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of receiving millions of dollars from the wife of Luzhkov, asking why “nobody even has any question about it” while claiming that he “didn’t have anything to do with Russia.” (Politico)

3/ Trump wrote off $26 million in “consulting fees” between 2010 and 2018 by treating a family member as a consultant and then deducting the fee as a cost of doing business. While the “consultants” were not identified in the tax records, comparing Trump’s tax records to Ivanka Trump’s financial disclosures show that a company she co-owned received $747,622 in 2017 – which matches consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for hotel projects in Vancouver and Hawaii. In both deals, Ivanka appears to have double-dipped: serving as both a project manager in her official capacity as a senior staffer for her father’s company and as a “consultant” to those same projects. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump wanted to name Ivanka as his running mate in 2016, according to a forthcoming book by former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates. Trump repeatedly brought up the idea of naming Ivanka as his VP pick, prompting the campaign to poll the idea – twice. “I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP?” Trump said. “She’s bright, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, and the people would love her!” Ivanka was reportedly the one who told Trump that it wasn’t a good idea. Pence was ultimately selected as Trump’s running mate only after he delivered a “vicious and extended monologue” about Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

4/ Nancy Pelosi called the report that Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due in the next four years a “national security question.” Pelosi, arguing that foreign nations or individuals could have “leverage” over the president, said the public has a “right to know” the details of his financial obligations. According to the Times report, Trump “is personally responsible” for the loans and “should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.” Democrats called on Trump to disclose his tax returns. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have remained largely silent and dodged questions about Trump’s taxes. (NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

  • A federal appeals judge questioned why Manhattan’s district attorney didn’t execute a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s tax returns weeks ago. Judge Pierre Leval said he believed that the order issued Sept. 1 by a three-member panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit was meant to pause a lower court’s dismissal of Trump’s effort to kill the subpoena — but that it did not prevent the district attorney, Cyrus Vance from collecting Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm in the meantime. The general counsel in the district attorney’s office said the appeals court’s Sept. 1 order was not interpreted that way. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1321: A federal appeals court temporarily blocked the release of Trump’s tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Oral arguments for Trump’s appeal were set for Sept. 25. Even if Cyrus Vance is allowed to enforce the subpoena for eight years of Trump’s financial records, grand jury secrecy laws would prevent the documents from becoming public. Trump, meanwhile, complained that “the deck was clearly stacked against” him, and said he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if necessary. (Washington Post / Axios / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Reuters)

5/ CDC Director Robert Redfield warned a colleague that “everything” Trump’s new coronavirus task force adviser “says is false.” Redfield, during a phone call made in public on a commercial airline, said Dr. Scott Atlas is misleading Trump on range of issues, including the efficacy of face masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus, and the benefits of herd immunity. Prior to joining the task force in August, Atlas was a frequent guest on Fox News, where he pushed to reopen the country and shared views that aligned with Trump’s opinions of the coronavirus pandemic. Pence, meanwhile, warned that “The American people should anticipate that cases will rise in the days ahead,” but moments later Trump insisted that the country is “rounding the corner,” even though the U.S. death toll surpassed 200,000 last week. Earlier this month, Redfield testified before Congress that “We’re nowhere near the end” as the global COVID-19 death toll nears 1 million. (NBC News / The Guardian)

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~33,225,000; deaths: ~1,000,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,135,000; deaths: ~205,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / The Guardian / Bloomberg

  • Experts say COVID-19 cases are likely about to surge. “States are rolling back restrictions, people are eager to get back to normal, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up. America may be on the verge of repeating the same mistakes, which would risk yet another surge in the COVID-19 epidemic.” (Vox)

  • 📌 Day 1343: Dr. Deborah Birx is reportedly so “distressed” with the direction of the coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she will remain. Specifically, the White House task force coordinator recently confided to aides and friends that she believes that Dr. Scott Atlas, a recent addition to the task force, is giving Trump misleading information about the efficacy of face masks. Atlas does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology. (CNN)

6/ The U.S. Postal Service stopped updating the national change of address system for three weeks in August as election officials were preparing to send out mail-in ballots to tens of millions of voters. The failure resulted in at least 1.8 million new changes of addresses not being registered in the database. (Time)

  • Trump’s 2016 campaign identified 3.5 million Black voters in key states that it wanted to “deter” from voting. A data leak obtained by the British news network Channel 4, shows that the Trump campaign prepared files on about 200 million American voters, separating some into eight different categories. One such category, assigned to 3.5 million Black voters, was titled: “Deterrence.” Black Americans were disproportionately marked “Deterrence” by the campaign when compared to general population stats. (Daily Beast)

7/ A third federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to halt changes that have causes nationwide mail delays. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed with a previous ruling that the changes are likely to risk the timely delivery of election mail, saying it is “clearly in the public interest to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, to ensure safe alternatives to in-person voting, and to require that the USPS comply with the law.” USPS removed 711 high-speed sorting machines around the country this year – a 15% reduction in capacity. (Washington Post)

poll/ 37% of voters said the Senate should confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, while 34% said she should not be confirmed, and 29% didn’t know or have an opinion. 40% said Barrett should only receive a vote if Trump is reelected, 39% said she should be confirmed as soon as possible no matter what, and 20% didn’t have an opinion. (Politico)

poll/ 50% of American who were laid off because of the coronavirus remain unemployed, 33% have returned to their old job, and 15% are in a different job than before. (Pew Research Center / Vox)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump named Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, calling it a “very proud moment indeed.” Trump called Barrett a woman of “towering intellect” and “unyielding loyalty to the Constitution” who would rule “based solely on the fair reading of the law.” The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for Barrett on Oct. 12. (NBC News / ABC News / CNN / NPR / New York Times)

  2. Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security told senators that White supremacists have become the “most persistent and lethal threat” to the U.S. from within the country. DHS is in charge of curbing domestic terrorism. Trump and Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, have both claimed that the nation has been besieged by “left-wing” agitators inciting violence at protests over racial injustice. In 2019, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t consider “white nationalism” to be a growing problem. (Bloomberg)

  3. The U.S. economy lost $16 trillion over the past 20 years as a result of discrimination against African Americans. The U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year. (NPR)

  4. A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump’s TikTok ban, allowing U.S. app stores to continue offering downloads. (NBC News / NPR)

  5. Trump’s former campaign manager was taken by police and hospitalized after his wife said he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself. Brad Parscale’s wife called the police and reported that he was armed and threatening suicide. Police arrived and took him to Broward Health Medical Center under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows police to detain and commit a person who is potentially a threat to himself or others. (Sun-Sentinel / Washington Post / New York Times)


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