With less than six weeks to go before Election Day, the drama surrounding Donald Trump’s tax returns shows no sign of abating.
Ever since he announced his campaign at the Trump Tower in New York last year, the real estate mogul has been plagued with requests to release his tax returns. On his part, Trump was able to dodge pertinent questions about his tax returns throughout the course of his primary campaign, even as his challengers released their tax filings. This led critics to argue that Donald Trump is not willing to release his tax returns because he has something to hide, and while Trump himself insisted that he would release his tax filings when the right time came, his inability to do so only strengthened arguments that Trump intended to evade the precedent set by most of America’s previous presidential candidates.
For the journalists, therefore, getting hold of Trump’s tax returns was imperative. Given that a presidential candidate was himself unwilling to show his tax records to the public, it somehow became the responsibility of the press to do their own investigation and bring the facts out to the public. It will not be an overstatement to concede that it must have been a dream of every journalist tracking Donald Trump’s finances to somehow have his tax records in his/her possession, but with every passing day, it appeared less likely that such a story would indeed break. After all, if Trump had something to hide, he would definitely guard his tax documents with his life.
And so, when in the middle of a desperately bad week for Donald Trump, the New York Times published a bombshell report about Donald Trump’s declaration of close to a $1 billion in losses in 1995, effectively exempting him from paying federal taxes for the better part of two decades, the world stood up and took notice. Here was the story everyone was waiting for — Trump’s friends and foes — because it would either lend credibility to the accusations that Trump had something to hide, or it would close the matter altogether. As it turned out, it was the former.
But while the fallout since the publication of the story is still developing, with Trump campaign’s statements betraying utter confusion in the face of this stunning report, another aspect of how the story came to be has been mostly overlooked. According to Susanne Craig, one of the New York Times reporters responsible for the publication of the article, Donald Trump’s 1995 tax records were mailed to her by an unknown sender. Journalists obviously do not betray their sources, but the fact that even the publishers of the story do not know who sent the story to them is intriguing. This is how Craig wrote she found the envelope with the tax records on September 23.
“I walked to my mailbox and spotted a manila envelope, postmarked New York, NY, with a return address of The Trump Organization. My heart skipped a beat.
“I have been on the hunt for Donald J. Trump’s tax returns. Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has broken with decades-long tradition and refused to make his returns public. I have written extensively about his finances, but like almost every other reporter, I was eager to see his actual returns.
“The envelope looked legitimate. I opened it, anxiously, and was astonished.
“Inside were what appeared to be pages from Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax records, containing detailed figures that revealed his tax strategies.”
The envelope that was sent to the New York Times was sent by someone at the Trump Tower, the same place from where the Republican nominee announced his candidature for the presidency last year. By all accounts, the sender must have been someone familiar with both Trump’s tax records as well as Susanne Craig’s history of publishing investigative stories about Donald Trump’s finances. Whoever sent the envelope knew it could change the course of Trump’s campaign, and by consequence, the course of the presidential race itself.
But who was it? Another reporter, a spy on Clinton’s payroll, or a member of the Trump family who does not want the patriarch of the family to lead the nation?
We are nowhere close to finding who it was who wanted the story about Trump’s taxes to break, but it is highly likely that whoever sent the tax records could have more documents in his/her possession. Are there more bombshell reports waiting to be released?
For all we know, Donald Trump has a snitch within his campaign. And if that’s the case, the Republican nominee better find him/her out soon, or he could be in a world of trouble.
[Featured Image by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]