Walter Shaub
Mon Sep 28 17:16:11 +0000 2020

The @nytimes article on Trump's tax returns is a brilliant piece of reporting. But I found one minor error in it that makes the story even worse for Trump. The NYT reported that executive branch financial disclosure filers "simply report revenue, not profit." This is incorrect./1

Under 5 CFR § 2634.302(b) Trump had to report the money he personally *received* from the business. The distribution is gross, rather than net, only in the sense that he must report the amount distributed to him before he paid his own personal taxes. Trump paid $750 in taxes. /2

The error in the NYT article appears to come from thinking that the financial disclosure report is for disclosing income of his businesses (i.e., the Trump Organization). It is not. The financial disclosure report is for disclosing income Trump personally received from them. /3

Thus, the disparity between Trump's financial disclosure report and his tax returns is even more significant than reported. If he knowingly and willfully falsely reported income in his financial disclosure report, he violated the Ethics in Government Act, 5 U.S.C. app. § 104. /4

If the false disclosure is "material," it could be a crime under 18 U.S.C. § 1001. Given that the president's not subject to the conflict of interest law and, as a result, the entire framework for presidential ethics is based on disclosure alone, one might argue it is material./5

This is not the first question regarding Trump's disclosures. Recall that he omitted his debt to Michael Cohen for the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels. OGE found that he should have disclosed that debt and notified the Justice Department. /6

A pattern emerges in which the errors in Trump's financial disclosure reports appear to benefit him. The fact that the corrupted Justice Department won't prosecute — or even investigate — him is irrelevant. What matters is that this conduct is disqualifying for the presidency. /7

Mon Sep 28 17:16:15 +0000 2020