June 18, 2024

could bankrupt Trump in a Moscow minute

IMMEDIATE RELEASE 22 November 2019
Today’s Events in Historical Perspective
America’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932
Putin could bankrupt Trump in a Moscow minute
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
          WASHINGTON – It was a breakthrough week in the House inquiry into potentially impeachable behavior by President Trump. The facts are well known that military aid to Ukraine was withheld in exchange for a political favor, namely an investigation into Trump’s rival and possible 2020 challenger, former Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter.
          Democrats characterize the pressure campaign on Ukraine as bribery and extortion while Republicans say even if the facts are true as charged, the scheme wasn’t ultimately carried out. Ukraine got its Javelin missiles, and a 55-day delay doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.
          An impeachment vote in the House is likely before Christmas, but the Senate is unlikely to marshal 67 votes to convict and remove Trump when impeachment moves to that body early next year.
          That doesn’t mean Trump can rest easy. He is battling on two fronts to keep his tax returns from becoming public, and both venues could end up in the Supreme Court.
          If Chief Justice Roberts joins with the four liberals on the court to order the release of Trump’s tax returns, that could be the smoking gun Trump’s critics need.
          The Watergate inquiry didn’t hit critical mass until Alexander Butterfield, a Nixon aide, revealed the existence of recording equipment in the White House. Next came the revelation of tapes with President Nixon’s voice on them followed by the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that the White House had to turn those tapes over to Congress.
          If Roberts chooses to uphold the legacy of the Court that will bear his name in the history books, the Supreme Court will rule affirmatively for the Southern District of New York, which is investigating campaign finance violations in connection with Trump’s payoffs to women, and for the House Ways and Means committee, which is investigating Trump’s violations of the Emoluments clause over how he profited from the presidency.
          Like Watergate, where the coverup, not the break-in, nailed Nixon, Trump could be taken down, not over Ukraine, but over his tax returns.
          There must be something in those returns he really doesn’t want anybody to see for him to have so strenuously guarded them. It is customary for presidential candidates to make their tax history public, and in 2016 candidate Trump said he would love to release his returns, but he was under audit.
          After he was elected, he said nobody was interested in his tax returns. Then, in 2018, he landed on a new rationale, that his tax returns are so complicated, that the public wouldn’t understand them. And he was still under audit.
          Now he’s pleading with the Supreme Court to take up his case and rule that as president he has unique concerns, and he doesn’t ever want his returns made public. On what grounds, it’s not clear, except that he appointed two of the current sitting justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, and he’s counting on loyalty from the Court’s conservative wing.
          But if we see those returns, there will be two big takeaways. The first is the extent to which the Trump empire is dependent on loans from Deutsche Bank; the second is that he’s not as rich as he says.
          Speaker Pelosi said some weeks ago that with Trump, all roads lead to Russia. His unusual affinity for Russian President Putin is the most puzzling aspect of the Trump presidency. Informed speculation traces it to the loans Trump’s business received from Deutsche Bank, Putin’s favorite financier, which kept the Trump empire afloat during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.
          Trump’s younger son, Eric, boasted in 2008, “We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need from Russia.” That could explain the Trump-Putin relationship. The Russian president is his banker, and if he called those loans, he could bankrupt Trump in a Moscow minute.
          Douglas Cohn’s latest books are World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers) and The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency.
          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn
          © 2019 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.

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