Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Donald Trump's Tax Returns and Ties to Russian Oligarchs

How likely is it that Donald Trump's tax returns indicate that he is financially tied to Russian oligarchs?

Ties to Russia

The intent of the question is to imply that Trump has a conflict of interest and might be allied with Russia against America. I find that intent to be saturated with hypocrisy as well as with dishonest reasoning.

  • Hillary is an internationalist, and her party is the party of internationalism. Therefore, when partisans accuse Trump of internationalism in his business, they commit hypocrisy.
  • Internationalists believe Russo-American ties are good. When they imply that Trump is anti American because he has Russo-American ties, they add another layer of hypocrisy.
  • The Democrat campaigns have worked hard to set up Russia as a bogeyman and link Trump to Russia, even when evidence has pointed to their own people as sources of some leaks. At the same time, they have lied about whether hackers ever obtained Hillary’s emails. (Guccifer 1.0 is in prison because of it.) Therefore, the accusation implied by the titular question loses credibility.
  • While Trump’s ties to Russia are speculative, Hillary’s ties are not. We know that the Clintons and their foundations received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian oligarchs while Hillary was SecState. More hypocrisy.
  • While we know of no anti-American actions by Trump that correspond to speculative ties to Russia, we do know that after receiving donations from Russia, Hillary enabled a mining deal that favored Russia and that had a significant negative impact on American interests. The circumstantial evidence is overwhelming and damning.
  • All of this hypocrisy demands the question of whether the Left is leveling its speculative accusations against Trump in order to deflect attention away from Hillary’s known corruption. Such deflection is a common tactic of cover-ups.
  • We have circumstantial evidence of complicity with a cover-up in the mainstream media. The story of the Clintons receiving hundreds of millions in “donations” was not covered. However, a story about a former Trump campaign employee receiving 1/100th as much did receive coverage. Keep in mind the context: Hillary’s action gave American interests to Russia; the Trump associate’s action brought Russian business to the US.
  • A financial relationship with Russians does not create a conflict of interest for a businessman, but the Clintons’ financial relationship with “Russian oligarchs” while Hillary was in office does create a conflict of interest. At best, the Clintons created a prosecutable appearance of impropriety, and at worst, participated in bribery on a level that would have gotten a bureaucrat executed in some countries.

The level of hypocrisy, dishonesty, and brutal partisanship underlying the question is astounding. And that is not speculation.

The Tangent Followed by Most Commenters

Because most commenters go on a tangent about why Trump has delayed releasing his tax forms, I will address that, too.

Here is a factual reason for a delayed release. It may be Trump’s primary reason; it may not.

If you ask ten IRS employees for an interpretation of the tax code, you will get ten different opinions. It is inevitable that an audit will result in changes to some details of any tax return as complex as Trump’s. If Trump releases his return now, then when the changes due to the audit are released, partisans on the Left will accuse him of lying on the initial submission. After that, the changes will have to ripple through his much more thorough financial statement, and he will be accused of lying again.

That puts Trump in a lose-lose situation. If he releases the initial returns, he’s unjustly accused of lying, but if he delays, he’s accused of hiding something “*whore*-able,” as Hillary dramatically pronounced it.

As I said, this is fact, not speculation. Whether it is his reason, I don’t know, and you cannot say it isn’t if you are honest with yourself.

Now, this is more speculative: Courts have agreed that the Obama Administration has used the IRS to target people and organizations on its “enemies list.”  The IRS’s pattern of auditing Trump is consistent with that criminal abuse of power. Might some future email leak show that the Democrats conspired to put Trump in this lose-lose situation? Perhaps not, but it is more likely that a lot of the speculation I see others listing as “probable.”

Many commenters demonstrate a pitiful lack of critical reasoning. For example, one commenter lists a variety of reasons and calls all of them probable, even though some may be mutually exclusive. This demonstrates a failure to distinguish between the probable and the possible, as well as a refusal to acknowledge possibilities that might be entirely innocent.

In another bogus argument, people say Trump can release his tax forms just because the IRS does not stop him. They falsely reason that the absence of one barrier means that no barriers exist.

Partisanship is driving a spectacular level of hypocrisy and downright stupidity in this election. You can’t even read a question without tripping over a rhetorical trick, distortion of fact, or logical fallacy. And judging from the comments, the corrupt, the liars, the hypocrites are winning.

Copyright 2016

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