A good fairy smites Trump

WASHINGTON – Donald Trump, the master spinner of fairy tales, has become the victim of a good fairy. An anonymous source has bestowed on The New York Times strong evidence of how he managed for years to turn huge business losses into legal ways to massively evade payment of federal income taxes.

A Times reporter received three photocopied pages of Trump’s signed 1995 tax return declaring losses of $916 million. They provided the basis by which he may have legally escaped paying as much as $50 million a year in taxes for as many as 18 years.

The Times, doing due diligence, tracked down the tax accountant who prepared Trump’s returns that year. He verified the photocopies’ authenticity, as the Republican presidential nominee continued refusing to release his full income tax returns.

In classic Trump fashion, he had already claimed in his first debate with rival Hillary Clinton that in avoiding tax payments, he was showing how “smart” he was. Two prominent campaign surrogates, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, dubbed him a “genius” who presumably was best equipped as president to reform the very tax laws that so benefited him.

Trump didn’t deny the validity of the Times story, instead using it to repeat his war on the mainstream news media. He painted The Washington Post with the same brush of bias he applied to The Times, for its revealing investigative delving into his business practices.

The Post stories chronicled Trump’s alleged charitable donations in the millions of dollars to veterans’ and other charitable groups. They disclosed that much of such gifts apparently never reached their intended destination.

Once Trump had the nomination in hand, these two major newspapers and a few others finally acted on their legitimate journalistic obligation to examine his claims of being uncommonly rich and uncommonly munificent. Their diligence eventually punched holes in the self-crafted picture of this endless braggart.

The maligned mainstream media have raised serious questions not only about Trump’s mercurial temperament and his misogynist and racist remarks but also about his claims of personal wealth, business acumen and knowledge of foreign policy.

Well before his first televised debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump demonstrated a woeful ignorance of world affairs and lack of the diplomatic skills required of a responsible American president. That debate laid bare his vulnerability to the deft taunting by a clearly better-prepared opponent in control of her message and on-camera manner.

The latest disclosures about Trump’s financial maneuvers and his inability to harness his self-destructive impulses seem a prelude to another political meltdown in the next debate with Clinton on Sunday night. Unless he somehow accedes to a sudden character transformation that some aides are said to be urging on him, the odds of averting a further campaign collapse appear unlikely.

The man who believes he knows what is best for himself about everything may well be heading a toward second self-immolation. All it takes is his rival Hillary Clinton figuratively handing him the torch, as she did so effectively the first time around.


Jules Witcover is a nationally syndicated columnist.