October 5, 2016

Question of the Week: Who is the Donald Trump Tax-Return Whistleblower?

Trump-Tax-ReturnsBy the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

According to a recent New York Times article, Donald Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, which may have allowed him to legally avoid federal income taxes for nearly two decades. The Trump campaign has not confirmed or denied the accuracy of these records, but Jack Mitnick, the accountant who had prepared and signed Mr. Trump’s tax returns, confirmed to the New York Times that the documents appeared to be authentic. Susanne Craig, the reporter responsible for the bombshell revelation, subsequently wrote a piece explaining how she came into possession of Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax records:

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.

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.

This fascinating story raises the question of who mailed the documents? What do you think?

Who is the Donald Trump Tax-Return Whistleblower?

Individuals with knowledge that any taxpayer, company, or foundation has violated U.S. tax laws could be eligible for an award under the IRS whistleblower program.

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If you would like more information or would like to speak to a member of Constantine Cannon’s whistleblower lawyer team, please click here.

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3 Responses to “Question of the Week: Who is the Donald Trump Tax-Return Whistleblower?

  1. Who gives a crap about his tax returns!! I don’t! I try to do the same things as do millions and millions of Americans!

  2. Susanne Craig said “I don’t think it’s a crime to check your mailbox,” the Trump campaign claimed the 1995 document “was illegally obtained” Susanne Craig Also said now knowing the document has been illegally obtained – more could be coming and we’re going to keep going an admission of Thief by receiving and …

    Prior to receiving or publishing these documents, Executive Editor Dean Baquet acknowledged in a public forum with Bob Woodward and Laura Poitras that “lawyers would say this is crossing a line” and “you know what your lawyers would tell you: if you publish them, you go to jail.” In criminal willfulness prosecutions, this is as close as you get to a “smoking gun” of willful intent to break the law: public admission the person knows they would be breaking the law, but advocating it anyway. Worse yet, because Baquet is a “key employee” with authority to bind the company, this conduct could be considered a crime of The New York Times as a company. https://www.bostonglobe.com/…/aIJHKWgXMcUfja…/story.html

    The only defense proffered so far by supporters of The New York Times is the First Amendment. A key Supreme Court constraint on the First Amendment defense is that the newspaper obtain information “lawfully.” A seminal case in this respect is the famous footnote 8 from the Florida Star case in the Supreme Court where the court left open the question whether “in cases where information has been acquired unlawfully by a newspaper or by a source” the government may legally “punish not only the unlawful acquisition, but the ensuing publication as well.” The Florida Star v. B.J.F., 491 U.S. 423, 535, n.8 (1989). Notably, the Supreme Court left open whether The New York Times could have been prosecuted from publishing the Pentagon Papers, but at least there, the Times did not knowingly violate a specific criminal statute and promise to do so in advance of receiving the documents. The D.C. Circuit, in the McDermott case, implied the law did not allow a newspaper to publish material it knew, and admitted it knew, was obtained unlawfully, when a specific law prohibited its publishing http://www.freelawreporter.org/…/191.F3d.463.98-7156.html

    A simple surmise: Soliciting a crime (such as the unauthorized disclosure of tax returns) is not court-protected First Amendment speech. The courts have rejected First Amendment challenges to this specific privacy-protection statute so far, starting in the Richey case in the Ninth Circuit. New York Times Executive Editor Baquet’s public commentary (soliciting disclosure of Trump tax returns by acknowledging he would publish and “go to jail” for it) creates problems for The New York Times‘ First Amendment defense: the First Amendment is not a free pass to criminally invade the privacy of another by the promised act of publishing unlawfully obtained information, knowing it is a crime to do so. The New York Times itself recognized this when it attacked Trump for his joke about Russians finding Hillary’s deleted emails, suggesting, if serious, such conduct would be criminal. Did the New York Times forget the same rules apply to the New York Times?

    The Obama administration’s approach to Julian Assange, and previously to Fox reporter James Rosen, also contradicts the First Amendment defense of the New York Times’ conduct here, as the entire premise of such FBI actions is that the First Amendment does not protect the open solicitation and promise to publish stolen, statute-protected, private documents. The statute, like the statute found constitutional in McDermott, protects Trump’s right to the privacy of his free speech. Free speech isn’t free if it can’t be private. The First Amendment thus protects “freedom not to speak publicly, to speak only privately,” as the D.C. Circuit acknowledged in the McDermott case. Even liberal leaning publications like the Huffington Post acknowledged that a journalist cannot use the First Amendment as a shield to solicit a crime. As Baquet admitted at the Harvard Forum, the New York Times executive editor would advocate “crossing a line” (Woodward’s words) if it concerned Trump’s tax returns. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/freedom-of-the-press…

    The New York Times published Donald Trump’s tax returns without his “affirmative authorization” as required by law. (See IRS Publication 4639). This violates the plain language of the law, and is considered criminal if “willful.” In tax laws in general, and First Amendment cases as well, courts compel a definition of willful that requires the individual know the law and know the law prohibits them from doing what they did. https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/7213