Of all the journalism that emerged from Donald Trump’s time in office, some of the most damning was a series of articles from The New York Times detailing how the president had inherited millions from his father largely through suspect tax schemes, ripped off tenants while lining his pockets, and, for a number of years, paid less in taxes than people living below the poverty line. When the stories, which relied on tax documents obtained by Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, were published in 2018 and 2020, the president was characteristically apoplectic. His lawyers vehemently denied the allegations, insisting that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” and claiming that “there was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone.” If there was, however, Trump had “virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters,” as the “affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves.”
At the time, though, Trump was busy with other matters, such as letting Saudi Arabia get away with murdering a U.S. resident and, later, laying the groundwork to claim the 2020 election was stolen from him. Now he’s got more time on his hands. And as his legal outlook grows dimmer and dimmer, he’s decided to revisit the issue.
Per NBC News:
Additionally, the suit accuses Mary Trump of violating a confidentiality agreement barring her from publicly releasing the details of the family’s finances, claiming Trump’s niece and the reporters were “motivated by a personal vendetta and their desire to gain fame, notoriety, acclaim and a financial windfall” and to “advance their political agenda.”
One key detail that the suit doesn’t mention is that last November, the offices of the New York attorney general and Manhattan district attorney expanded their probes into Trump and his businesses to include suspicious tax write-offs on millions of dollars in consulting fees, some of which, according to a 2020 Times story, appeared to have been paid to Ivanka Trump. That story showed that the “very rich” real estate developer had managed to reduce his taxable income by deducting approximately $26 million in fees to “consultants” as business expenses between 2010 and 2018. While the consultants’ identities were not listed on tax records, some of the fees definitely looked like they’d been paid to his favorite child. As the Times reported:
Ivanka Trump has not been accused of wrongdoing, and in response to the news of the expanded probes, she angrily tweeted: “This is harassment pure and simple. This ‘inquiry’ by NYC democrats is 100% motivated by politics, publicity and rage. They know very well that there’s nothing here and that there was no tax benefit whatsoever. These politicians are simply ruthless.” The Trump Organization, on the other hand, was charged in July with conspiracy, a scheme to defraud, and multiple counts of tax fraud and falsifying records. The company, like its longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, has pleaded not guilty. Earlier this week an attorney for Weisselberg said there was “strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Times said the paper’s “coverage of Donald Trump’s taxes helped inform the public through meticulous reporting on a subject of overriding public interest. This lawsuit is an attempt to silence independent news organizations and we plan to vigorously defend against it.” On Twitter, Craig wrote, “I knocked on Mary Trump’s door. She opened it. I think they call that journalism.” Mary Trump’s lawyer Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. said in a statement: “This is the latest in a long line of frivolous lawsuits by Donald Trump that target truthful speech and important journalism on issues of public concern. It is doomed to failure like the rest of his baseless efforts to chill freedom of speech and of the press.”
For her part, Mary Trump told the Daily Beast, of her uncle: “I think he is a fucking loser, and he is going to throw anything against the wall he can. It’s desperation. The walls are closing in, and he is throwing anything against the wall that will stick. As is always the case with Donald, he’ll try and change the subject.”
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