Moulitsas: The fall of Trump

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During their first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton wondered aloud why Donald Trump was afraid to release his tax returns as every presidential candidate has done for decades. “First, maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is. Second, maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Third, we don’t know all of his business dealings, but … he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”

We now know that Trump is certainly not as charitable as he has claimed, with his foundation under scrutiny — and investigation — for being used for self-dealing, to pay off legal debts, to buy off politicians and settle political scores, and to conduct business while avoiding paying taxes. 

{mosads}We increasingly have insight into Trump’s massive debts, no matter how much he bragged during the debate of being “under-leveraged.” The fact is, domestic banks now refuse to do business with the real estate tycoon, leaving him to conduct most of his business with struggling Deutsche Bank. As one banker at Goldman Sachs told The Wall Street Journal, bankers “know better than to pitch” anything Trump-related. 

The left claims Trump isn’t as rich as he’s said he is and that he’s paid nothing in taxes. And then The New York Times got its hands on parts of the Republican presidential nominee’s 1995 return. 

Trump was already suffering arguably the worst week in modern presidential history: from his disastrous first debate performance to his weeklong meltdown over former Miss Universe Alicia Machado — culminating with a bizarre early-morning tweetstorm demanding his followers go watch porn — to a disastrous Saturday night campaign rally in which he accused Clinton of cheating on her husband and mocked her pneumonia-induced collapse. 

With scientific polls confirming Clinton’s lopsided debate victory — Fox News was the latest, finding that voters thought the former secretary of State won by a whopping margin of 61 percent to 21 percent — Trump desperately needed to rebuild voter confidence in his temperament. Instead, the tax leak bombshell revealed far more than anyone thought possible. 

We certainly found out that Trump hasn’t been paying any taxes, parlaying a near $1 billion loss into nearly two decades of income offsets. But never mind not paying taxes, how the heck does someone lose that much money running a casino in the boom ’90s? For someone whose entire self-identity is wrapped up in his supposed business successes, this paints a picture of business buffoonery. 

The pushback from Trump’s shrinking band of surrogates was certainly creative. “The man’s a genius,” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, surrendering what final shreds of dignity he had left. “He knows how to operate the tax code to the benefit of the people he’s serving.” Trump is a loser and a cheat, and the only “people he’s serving” is himself. But what could Trump’s friends say? The answer to Clinton’s multiple-choice debate question had been answered: “All of the above.”

For his part, Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns, which means the real story of what’s in them is worse than what the Times has published. Apparently, Trump prefers to be seen as that business loser and tax cheat than whatever the full returns would actually show.

But with Trump’s business acumen now discredited, his lack of charity exposed and his family history a sordid shambles, what’s left to commend him as a worthwhile human being, much less a presidential candidate?

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.

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