So…….Let’s review the bidding.
At the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton “pulled a Harry Reid.”
As Reid did with Mitt Romney, Hillary used a softball question from the “moderator” Lester Holt to speculate on Donald Trump’s tax returns. In particular, Clinton hypothesized that Trump paid little or no income taxes.
But unlike with Harry Reid presto! Within a week, the New York Times reveals a “news flash” that, based on huge losses of over $912 million reported in 1995 on what appears to be an illegally leaked tax return, Trump may have applied those losses in a way that resulted in little or no income taxes in succeeding years.
Times “experts” helpfully speculated, based on no information they revealed, that the losses could offset tax liability for the next 20 years.
All of this assumes information about tax liabilities over those 20 years about which they “supposedly” have no knowledge.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t speculate on who mailed the envelope. But Clinton, during the debate, took a Clinton-like risk by looking onto her crystal ball and speculating on something she supposedly knew nothing about. The inference is that she knew exactly what the New York Times was about to do.
And all of this falls into the standard Democratic presidential game plan of using illegally leaked documents or tapes to mount an “October Surprise.”
Remember Bush’s drunk driving arrest? Or the surreptitiously leaked recording of Romney’s “47%” comments at a private meeting?
Well, now we know what Clinton’s “October Surprise” is – neatly packaged into one envelope postmarked “New York City” which, coincidentally is where the Clinton presidential campaign is located.
The envelope was conveniently tidied up with a Trump return address – a level of sophistication which suggested it was not sent by a low-level New York State revenue department employee.
There is, of course, a way that the New York Times can establish, once and for all, who sent the envelope: It can submit the envelope and the tax forms for fingerprint analysis. Although you would think this would prove fruitful, the FBI’s capacity to analyze fingerprints under these circumstances in an issue of high national interest is extraordinary.
And yes, while fingerprinting paper is not the same as fingerprinting glass, it is possible.
And yes, any Clinton operative who had ever held a federal job would have his or her fingerprints in the FBI database.
The New York Times cites Bartniki v. Vopper, where the court overturned a law prohibiting broadcast of a surreptitious recording of a cellphone conversation. The difference is that the radio station was not actively trolling for people to violate the law and not working in concert with a political campaign – both of which the Times appears to be doing.
The Times also argues that, although it published information purporting to be from Trump’s federal tax forms and about Trump’s federal tax liability – and made copious inferences about the ramifications of Trump’s federal taxes – that is not a violation of federal law because the actual pages were from the tax forms. Good luck with that!
One way or another, a crime has obviously been committed by either stealing or forging tax returns. And almost certainly breaking into the government office or a Trump office to do so. This is burglary. And it’s exactly what happened in Watergate. And it’s exactly what forced Richard Nixon to resign, under threat of impeachment.
A lawsuit against the Times and Clinton campaign would also eventually force production of the mailed copy of the tax forms. And we know that a reporter’s efforts to protect his or her sources in order to conceal a crime will result in a contempt of court citation for the reporter and everyone with access to the evidence.
But the nation needs to call the Times to voluntarily turn over the envelope and the documents for analysis now.
If, as everyone suspects, the documents came from a high-level Clinton staffer and were sent with Hillary’s knowledge, it would be far better to “pre-impeach” Clinton before the election than to “post-impeach” her afterwards.