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The surprise about the big New York Times story on Donald Trump’s tax returns is that there are no real surprises.

Trump’s taxes have been an obsession of the left since he, in violation of a long-standing norm, reneged on his promise to release his returns during the 2016 campaign.

Pieces were written urging some brave whistleblower to come forward with them, and Democrats counted as one of the advantages of taking the House that they could demand Trump’s returns. The dispute resulting from the administration’s refusal to turn them over is now probably headed to the Supreme Court.

All the while, the expectation, or at least the suspicion, was that the returns contained some awful secret, perhaps evidence that he is a tool of the Russians.

And here, The New York Times has obtained Trump’s tax information spanning a decade from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and the revelation is that he wasn’t doing as well as he said in public and lost a boatload of money in a period that nearly destroyed him. In other words, exactly what anyone paying any attention would have expected.

Yes, the amount of the reported loss, $1.17 billion, is remarkable (although inflated for tax purposes), and some of the details memorable.

Trump doesn’t like having all the particulars on the record to be discussed and mocked, but can anyone say that they are surprised?

Trump himself, the Washington Examiner notes, talked about his precarious financial state in this period on the first episode of “The Apprentice.” In fact, he may have exaggerated, saying that he had been “billions of dollars” in debt.

As for Trump’s use of tax loopholes, he said in a debate with Hillary Clinton that if he didn’t owe any tax liability, that made him “smart.”

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There really are no Trump mysteries. His flaws aren’t hidden. He often attests to them himself, or demonstrates them publicly. For someone who cares so much about his image, and so assiduously crafts it, he’s a relative open book.

No blockbuster report has more than a passing effect because each dispatch is, ultimately, another dot in a pointillist portrait of the president that was largely completed long ago.

This is also why the hope that we are one investigation, tax return or subpoena away from the revelation that will finally bring Trump down — or even make a difference — is almost certainly forlorn.

Obviously, it was news that he had paid off a porn star during the presidential campaign, and highly embarrassing. This is why Trump denied it for so long. But he’d already told us about his womanizing in his own words, often on “The Howard Stern Show.”

Likewise, the most blameworthy conduct regarding Russia’s election interference in 2016 was out in the open — the Trump campaign was happy to derive any possible advantage from the WikiLeaks disclosures, and Trump tried to deny the obvious Russian involvement.

We didn’t need a 400-page special counsel report to break this news.

Even some of Trump’s alleged obstruction, which you’d expect to involve back-channel scheming (and there was certainly that), was out in the open.

He pressured Jeff Sessions in public to un-recuse. He publicly called Michael Cohen a rat. He told Lester Holt on a TV news broadcast that he fired James Comey because of the Russia investigation (specifically that it didn’t have anything to do with him). And he’s made no secret that he yearns for an attorney general who will protect him.

You can add lurid details to this basic picture, and Mueller did, but it’s hard to find a game-changer.

None of this is to defend or excuse Trump’s business practices, or his conduct in office. It is merely to say that he’s an extravagantly known quantity, and will likely win or lose in 2020 based on what we already know rather than the fruits of further investigation and fact-finding.

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Syndicated columnist Rich Lowry can be reached at comments.lowry@nationalreview.com.

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(39) comments

martian2

Trump likes to use the word socialist against his enemies among many other names. Here is another mystery about Trump and the GOP. They straight up want to again start giving farmers cash for ruining their livelihood with idiotic tariffs, which is more socialistic than anything Democrats have proposed. And yes we will have to borrow the money from China, the very ones we are having a tariff war with, so we can give it to farmers. And the madness continues.

A Veteran

martain ----so you disagree with a large share of the liberals in congress on Trump trying to get free and fair trade with China,including Shumer and Sanders just to name a couple .T he latest polls largely support getting a fair deal with China.Looks like you are among the minority!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

martian2

oh my veteran, those exclamation points are too intimidating for me!! So much for sanity. Nothing wrong with getting fair trade with China or anyone. Not sure what free trade means. There are many other ways of getting fair trade deals without being a blustering bumbling bully. It can be done without hurting the farmers and the American consumers too. But never mind Veteran, I am sure if your farm qualifies you will be first in line to get those socialists payments borrowed from China. If your farm doesn't qualify then we can all expect to hear your whining and see more exclamation points. Gee I can't hardly wait!!!

new2Lax

China had, Trump good.

HolmenPackerFan

Just dusting off the old conspiracy and waiting for oldhomey's head to explode.

crank

OMG! [lol]

Kronosaurus

What's next, Trump will shoot someone on 5th Avenue and Lowry will say, "hey what's the big deal, he said he was going to do it". We say now that he is joking but when the truth is revealed we say that he was a truth teller all along. That's making America great again?

There are mysteries. Does Lowry know Trump's net worth? Nope. Nobody knows because he lies abaout it all of the time. When we finally get his net worth he will have the bases covered, according to Lowry, because he has mentioned a large array of figures.

Lowry also conveniently leaves out that the taxes the NY Times revealed were just cover sheets and stopped at 1995, right around the time that he starts getting loans from fishy sources. Why would anyone loan to this guy? Has Trump admitted to loan fraud yet or conspiring to commit money laundering with Russians? When we prove that he does do that will Lowry say that we knew it all a long and so it's all good?

And if he is a known womanizer why did he cover up the two affairs? Perhaps he thought even Trump supporters had moral boundaries. Or, I suppose, we can say he was protecting Melania. They will turn that one into a virtue. Lowry is proving once again that Americans have sold their moral souls to Trump. It's all good though. We get to force 11 year old rape victims to give birth to their rapist's babies. We get lower taxes and much higher deficits. We were just kidding about deficits being bad and all because we really just wanted our guns and to stop abortions. Yeah, America sure is great again.

new2Lax

I assume you are assuming Lowery will say Trump said he would shoot someone when in fact he didn’t say it. Is that akin to Obama saying you could keep your health plan and doctor and then not being able too. That’s why you can in any way shape or form say Obama was a truth teller. I guess to loan Trump money you have to have confidence in him. You notice Bill Clinton tried covering up his rapes and dalliances, to the point of being impeached, I think he only paid six or seven times to cover them up. Well at least you got lower taxes with Trump, with Obama, you didn’t get that. If I recall the deficits went much higher under Obama. You are correct, America is being made great again.

martian2

from fox news newt, more whataboutisms! He just keeps them rolling along, must be the feature on fox every day. Hey Newt, this isn't about Obama or Clinton, reality check!

new2Lax

But their so much fun and they will be involved soon enough.

oldhomey

Ahem. new2, I know in your skrewball sense of things you do not like to see people cut and paste actual facts that prove you are absolutely wrong. Tough. You need to know the truth even if you choose to ignore it. This is from Snopes:

"On 23 January 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump caused controversy when he stated the following during a campaign rally in Iowa:

"'I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.'

"The comment was part of a larger point Trump was making about the loyalty of his voting base:"

You, sir, are a member of Trump's adoring voting base. Now you have the basis of knowing that he, indeed, said it, and he said it as he boasted how ignorant his base of supporters is.

Of course you will protest that Snopes doesn't tell the truth, which is false. It exists to ferret out the truth. And, so that you can make no mistake about believing them in this instance, it plays the video of Trump making that outrageous statement in Iowa.

You ALWAYS hearken back to whattabout Obama, citing the one thing that stings Obama for misinforming the public about keeping your doctor with Obamacare. What you NEVER say is that Obama acknowledged he had not spoken the truth and publicly apologized for it. Have you ever heard Trump apologize, even though the man has crossed the 10,000 publicly stated lies threshold since he became president less than 30 months ago?

Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about a very messy sexual encounter to protect his family. A serious offense, but not one that threatened the integrity of our entire system of government, which Trump certainly seems guilty of doing. And, though you never mention it, while he was impeached, Clinton was not convicted, despite Republicans having the majority in the Senate.

You are possibly the worst "spin doctor" on these boards, another indication that you never had the skill set to back up your claim that you were once a crack HR executive for a Fortune 300 company.

Cassandra2

Facts don't matter, Homey. Wingnuts will make up whatever nonsense fits their needs at the moment. They create their own reality, wrapped around the paranoid fantasy they reside in.

capedcrusader

I don't believe he ever said what company either. Kind of like Czeczok claiming to be a teacher but won't tell us where he taught. (much less what he taught). You won't get a Republican on here to refute your post. They can't.

new2Lax

Trying to compare Obama successes with Trumps is what you need to see and you can’t Handle it. The defeat of Hillary Clinton to you self serving lefties was devastating, something I believe you will never get over. This is the basis of your disdain for Trump and there is no way to hide it. Trump is a doer and has is by no means perfect but he is perfect for what ails this country. Failing to see this is what you are up against.
You will see in the coming months what the left was capable of doing and it will not be that big of a surprise because you are already aware of what they have done. The media will be begging for forgiveness for their blind bias. The Russia investigation continues and the fourth investigation was opened yesterday when Barr appointed Durham. I don’t think it will take nearly as long Max 6 months for the answers. Buckle up.

martian2

oh goody, more conspiracies coming from the fox news nut newt! And its all gonna take is six months or less. gosh I wish I had that crystal ball he uses. Oh wait i do have access, its called info wars, fox news, brietbart and many others. Alex Jones must be laughing all the way to the bank with these type of paranoid nit wits. I suspect six months will come and go without any of newt's prognostications coming to fruition. by then he will have a whole new list of conspiracies to sink his shallow sunken mind into. And the madness continues.

martian2

OMG another fox news lie from newt. Fact is the deficits under Obama where much lower when he left office than when he entered office. Course you will never hear that on fox! Obama told one misstatement and therefor he was never to be trusted ever! Well the tally for Trump is over ten thousand lies so far, what does that make him? To the fox news crowd it probably makes him so trustworthy you can bet your 401k on him. Clinton impeachment had nothing to do with rapes or assaults. And he never paid hush money to anyone! You are so much like fox news, keep making it up, keep lying , keep distracting and soon, by magic, it all becomes the truth.

new2Lax

I guess you missed the 850,000 dollars Bill Clinton paid to Paula Jones. You may want to check this out. That was on Fox News, my guess again is the media you watch didn’t carry it, like so many other things. No wonder your in the dark on these issues. He raped Juanita Broderick and she told two of her friends immediately after the incident. No Clinton was impeached for lying, the rape and other sexual misconduct was an extra. I hope when you look this up it does not distract you from the BS you listen too.

A Veteran

martain----when are you going to tell us what fake business you own????????????????????????

new2Lax

I almost forgot to mention the four on going suits against Bill Clinton for his sexual escapes. These four suits are asking hundreds of thousands from good ole Bill. Maybe you should look into these. I see you were aghast at the 130,000 paid by Trumps attorney, Micheal Cohen, you must be rolling over now that you know Bill z lit on paid6 Times the amount and many times more to come. I think this is already true so try not getting side tracked here. Shocker I bet. See what you can pickup on Fox. I guess they report these things.

martian2

more and whataboutisms from good old newt, the foxs news nut, and he even brags about it. I really don't care about What happened twenty years ago or more with Clinton. I know you are wrong, you can't provide any proof. Fox news is certainly not proof. As far as veteran knowing what business I owned, it was a psychiatric business, and I can tell you are in desperate need of it. Get hep now!(plus a thousand more exclamation points)

martian2

oh newt the fox news nut, just a short search into the lawsuit to Clinton's past showed he was innocent. Paula Jones sued Clinton for sexually harassment, A judge found Jones had no case. Clinton settled the suit for 850 thousand while admitting no guilt. Jones accepted it. Therefor no conviction and Clinton is not guilty according to the law. You are such a liar. Only half truths mixed with lies come from you, and fox news. https://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-presidential-debate-fact-check/2016/10/bill-clinton-paula-jones-settlement-fine-229460

capedcrusader

new2Lax - or whatever your name is, you sir are full of BS. Clinton didn't rape anyone. You are a liar and a thief of crazy ideas.

Kronosaurus

News2, your analysis of "lefties" is ignorant. You claim they can't get over Clinton's loss. Were you in a coma in 2015 and 2016? People have been pointing out what a moral dumpster fire Trump is since he rode down the escalator. We've all know that he is ethically challenged and and a scam artist since well before the election. The real question is how Trump supporters could be so eager to vote in a person with negative character. This is an enormous turn around fr4om the days when the GOP touted itself as the family values party.

new2Lax

Because Obama was President, how do you think Trump got in, Democrats in the know, had enough. You needed Democrats to pull this off, thank you.

oldhomey

Great comments, Krono. Thank you.

Cassandra2

"...inflated for tax purposes..." Also known as "tax fraud." It's amazing the lengths that the trumpanzees will go to in defense of their favorite dictator. If Obama had gotten so much as a parking ticket they would've rolled out the guillotine!

crank

The crybaby chorus concert begins in 3....2....1....

(I wonder if there will also be a sock puppet show?)

martian2

nobody cares about his tax returns from thirty years ago. Its the past six years that is at stake here. Yea he lost lots of money from dumb decisions long ago. Why is he blocking his tax release now, when he promised he would release them? If a democrat did that the right wingers would be marching in the streets demanding their tax returns be made public. but since its Trump he gets a pass from the TWS(Trump worshiping society) and the hypocrisy continues.

capedcrusader

Vote blue in 2020.

capedcrusader

How many names are you using?

martian2

you got that right crank, the whiners on the right won't stop crying cause the lefties are picking on Trump. And boo hoo, why can't all news channels be like fox. Life just isn't fair!

oldhomey

Show us the sock puppets, crank, or start wearing a new name tag -- Old Phoney.

crank

LOL! Old Phoney... That fits one of us. #amenmartian [rolleyes][lol]

oldhomey

Well, I am glad it amuses and pleases you so much, crank. It does fit you so well, being that you are so full of bonafide b.s. and boasts backed by empty bombast.

capedcrusader

I bet "old crank" won't reveal his identity...

HolmenPackerFan

Not a chance! With lunatics like oldhomey who create imaginary online friends and spend late nights dreaming up wild conspiracies about those who disagree with him, I expect it would be a small hop for someone like him to justify throwing nails in my driveway, harming my pets or worse.

You go ahead...feel free to reveal your real name anytime you wish, ‘capedcrusader’. [smile]

oldhomey

Ah, so. I apologize to Onalaska. I see the HolmenPackerFan screen name, and I have instant recognition of the alternate account crank himself was using last year until I caught him at it. I was thinking Onalaska was in the name when i was trying to recall it, but it was Holmen. He even, I see, likes to use emojis in his Holmen identity, too. Has anyone ever seen somebody "protesteth too much " as Holmen/crank does in this 2:45pm post?

crank

Holy cow! You've really must've gone around the bend to come back to this HolmenPackerFan thing. LOL! #unhinged

You... "You can type out that accusation against me just so many times before it looks pretty lame, given you have no evidence to back that up."

Do you have a bulletin board with photos and post-it notes connected with red yarn tied together with push-pins? Hmmmm, let me see. This week I'm really HolmenPackerFan but a few days again it was Onalaska something...mamasboy is really 'Ricky' (or is it DMoney?)...Buggs Raplin comes back variously as Snow Cougar, Neighbor of the Beast or any new person who disagrees with you...Otis something or is a second account set up by ClimateHoax?...New2Lax is Fidel Cashflow? (that screen name is the best, BTW)...Veteran must be posing as someone on your enemies list/conspiracy tracker board, right? Batman? [batman] #emojitrigger

Did I miss any, you crazy nut job? Oh! Yes! I almost forgot... How many calls have you placed to the Tribune's editorial staff to demand Redwall be kicked off this web site for not paying his bill??? [huh] [ban] #getoffmyboards #enemieslist #moreemojitriggers

I agree with HolmenPackerFan (or me, I guess? [alien] )... there is no telling what you might be capable of doing. You've evidently lost your marbles.

I suggest you take your pills and have the missus put you to bed with your sock puppets.

A Veteran

old phony ---we all know who the old phoney is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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