Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and two of his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, have been named as material witnesses in the investigation of a tax evasion scheme concerning $250 million of unreported income. The case centers around Felix Sater, a man who secretly pleaded guilty to a massive stock swindle in 1998, which defrauded investors and funneled the money into his own pockets and into the coffers of Mafia families. There is a significant chance that Trump and his children will be charged with tax evasion.
A material witness is a secondary suspect to a crime. There is not enough evidence to label a material witness as a suspect or file charges, but there is enough to hold them in custody, if necessary, and force them to testify. Depending on what further evidence is uncovered and his statements to investigators, Trump could easily be charged and have to pay out around $21 million.
The scheme depicted below shows how money was hidden from authorities by Sater’s investment firm, Bayrock, which financed several Trump-branded real estate development projects. The four boxed in projects at the bottom of the chart were classified as partnerships. Partnerships are not taxed since the profits go directly to the partners and are reported in the partners’ income tax filings. However in this case, earnings were not reported by Sater and other partners – including Trump.
Ever since the tenure of Richard Nixon, every presidential candidate has released at least some of their tax returns to prove to voters that they are clean. Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has released all of her tax returns for the last 30 years. Trump has claimed that he cannot release his returns from 2012 onwards because they are being audited. However, that doesn’t explain why he has not released any returns from years prior to 2012. Former commissioner of Internal Revenue Mark Evans also says that routine auditing is not a reason for Trump to hide his recent tax returns.
Trump likes to accuse Clinton of being “crooked,” but he is by far the least transparent candidate in modern history and probably the most corrupt as well. Trump claims to stand for the average working American, but he has spent his entire career trampling over the working class and has engaged in rampant tax evasion and fraud over the course of his career (he paid no taxes in 1978, 1979, 1992, and 1994 despite making millions each year).
Trump is a criminal who deserves to be behind bars. He has no right to pretend to champion the rights of workers or to pretend to be qualified to sit in the Oval Office. The American people deserve transparency, a law-abiding president, and most of all a president who stands for their interests, not just the status of his own bank account.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.