Clinton Speaks at Annual BookExpo in NYC

On Thursday, Hillary Clinton appeared at the annual BookExpo event in New York City. Clinton was interviewed on stage by author Cheryl Strayed, and the two discussed a number of topics including the 2016 election and her upcoming book. The book, which will be published by Simon & Schuster this fall, is said to be inspired by a series of funny, meaningful, and inspirational quotes that Clinton has collected over the years. She said, “This book is, for me, a really personal, deep experience, and I also have to say an emotional catharsis.” Clinton spoke about how writing the book has helped her get through the last several months and inspired her to keep fighting. Watch a video from the event below.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow the Clintons on Twitter @HillaryClinton, @billclinton, and @ChelseaClinton. You can also follow Hillary on Facebook and Instagram.

News Source: America Booksellers Association, Publishers Weekly

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Podesta Blasts Trump’s Distortion of Reality in Op-Ed

WASHINGTON, DC -- NOVEMBER 9: Former Clinton White House Chief of Staff, John Podesta, being interviewed for Discovery Channel's, "The President's Gatekeepers," November 9, 2012, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

John Podesta, the former chairman of Hillary for America, published an op-ed in The Washington Post attacking President Donald Trump for his continued distortion of the facts and attacks on the media. In the piece, Podesta calls out Trump for calling anything that does not portray him in the best light “fake news.” He has said this about poll numbers, his businesses, his connections to Russia, and any of his nominees. Podesta calls Trump’s attacks on the media “dangerous” as he is trying to turn people against the media and the political system. “He’s not just trying to spin the bad news of the day; all politicians do that. He seeks nothing less than to undermine the public’s belief that any news can be trusted, that any news is true, that there is any fixed reality,” he says. Read the full op-ed HERE.

Follow Podesta on Twitter @johnpodesta.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow the Clintons on Twitter @HillaryClinton, @billclinton, and @ChelseaClinton. You can also follow Hillary on Facebook and Instagram.

News Source: The Washington Post

Hillary Clinton to Release New Book, Speak at Alma Mater

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Hillary Clinton is returning to public spotlight. She has attended a few events since she lost the presidential race in November, but today several upcoming events were announced. The biggest announcement was from publisher Simon & Schuster who will publish a collection of personal essays by Clinton this fall. The book is described to include a number of her favorite quotes to “tell stories from her life, up to and including her experiences in the 2016 presidential campaign.” Simon & Schuster also announced a children’s book version of Clinton’s book, It Takes a Village, will be released in September. The new edition will feature illustrations by Marla Frazee and all proceeds will be donated to charity.

It was also announced that she will be returning to the speech circuit with several events planned in the coming months. The most notable will be a commencement address at Wellesley College, her alma mater. Clinton gained notoriety for becoming the first student speaker at her own commencement in 1969. Other speeches on tap for Clinton include an event at the United States Postal Service honoring fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, a speech organized by Vital Voices on International Women’s Day, and a speech at a New York LGBT Community Center. Clinton will also resume her paid speeches through the Harry Walker Agency. For a list of Clinton’s upcoming events, see our Scheduled Events page.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow the Clintons on Twitter @HillaryClinton, @billclinton, and @ChelseaClinton. You can also follow Hillary on Facebook and Instagram.

News Source: NBC News, Time, The Hill

Podesta Pens Op-Ed about the FBI

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The chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, John Podesta, published an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing the FBI for its handling of Clinton’s email investigation and the hacking of his emails as well as the emails of the Democratic National Committee. Read Podesta’s full op-ed below:

Something is deeply broken at the FBI
By: John Podesta
December 15, 2016

The more we learn about the Russian plot to sabotage Hillary Clinton’s campaign and elect Donald Trump, and the failure of the FBI to adequately respond, the more shocking it gets. The former acting director of the CIA has called the Russian cyberattack “the political equivalent of 9/11.” Just as after the real 9/11, we need a robust, independent investigation into what went wrong inside the government and how to better protect our country in the future.

As the former chair of the Clinton campaign and a direct target of Russian hacking, I understand just how serious this is. So I was surprised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI discovered the Russian attack in September 2015, it failed to send even a single agent to warn senior Democratic National Committee officials. Instead, messages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a former head of the FBI cyber division told the Times, this is a baffling decision: “We are not talking about an office that is in the middle of the woods of Montana.”

What takes this from baffling to downright infuriating is that at nearly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be bothered to drive 10 minutes to raise the alarm at DNC headquarters, two agents accompanied by attorneys from the Justice Department were in Denver visiting a tech firm that had helped maintain Clinton’s email server.

This trip was part of what FBI Director James B. Comey described as a “painstaking” investigation of Clinton’s emails, “requiring thousands of hours of effort” from dozens of agents who conducted at least 80 interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of documents. Of course, as Comey himself concluded, in the end, there was no case; it was not even a close call.

Comparing the FBI’s massive response to the overblown email scandal with the seemingly lackadaisical response to the very real Russian plot to subvert a national election shows that something is deeply broken at the FBI.

Comey justified his handling of the email case by citing “intense public interest.” He felt so strongly that he broke long-established precedent and disregarded strong guidance from the Justice Department with his infamous letter just 11 days before the election. Yet he refused to join the rest of the intelligence community in a statement about the Russian cyberattack because he reportedly didn’t want to appear “political.” And both before and after the election, the FBI has refused to say whether it is investigating Trump’s ties to Russia.

There are now reports that Vladimir Putin personally directed the covert campaign to elect Trump. So are teams of FBI agents busy looking into the reported meeting in Moscow this summer between Carter Page, a Trump foreign policy adviser, and the Putin aide in charge of Russian intelligence on the U.S. election? What about evidence that Roger Stone was in contact with WikiLeaks and knew in advance that my hacked emails were about to be leaked? Are thousands of FBI person-hours being devoted to uncovering Trump’s tangled web of debts and business deals with foreign entities in Russia and elsewhere?

Meanwhile, House Republicans who had an insatiable appetite for investigating Clinton have been resistant to probing deeply into Russia’s efforts to swing the election to Trump. The media, by gleefully publishing the gossipy fruits of Russian hacks, became what the Times itself calls “a de facto instrument of Russian intelligence.”

But the FBI’s role is particularly troubling because of its power and responsibility — and because this is part of a trend. The Justice Department’s Inspector General issued a damning report this summer about the FBI’s failure to prioritize cyberthreats more broadly.

The election is over and the damage is done, but the threat from Russia and other potential aggressors remains urgent and demands a serious and sustained response.

First, the Obama administration should quickly declassify as much as possible concerning what is known about the Russian hack, as requested by seven Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Second, the administration should brief members of the electoral college on the extent and manner of Russia’s interference in our election before they vote on Dec. 19, as requested by a bipartisan group of electors.

Third, Congress should authorize a far-reaching, bipartisan independent investigation modeled on the 9/11 Commission. The public deserves to know exactly what happened, why and what can be done to prevent future attacks. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) have introduced legislation to authorize such an investigation.

Finally, Congress should more vigorously exercise its oversight to determine why the FBI responded overzealously in the Clinton case and insufficiently in the Russian case. The FBI should also clarify whether there is an ongoing investigation into Trump, his associates and their ties to Russia. If ever there were a case of “intense public interest,” this is it. What’s broken in the FBI must be fixed and quickly.

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News Source: The Washington Post

Chelsea Clinton: Three Reasons to Vote for Hillary

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Earlier this week, US Weekly published an article by Chelsea Clinton entitled “3 Reasons to Vote for My Mom.” The magazine asked the daughters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump to write a short article explaining why voters should support their parent, and only Chelsea responded. What Chelsea wrote is below:

  1. She cares about children — not just her own (me!).

Growing up, I never doubted I was my mom’s first priority. My mom’s first questions over dinner always focused on what I’d learned that day and what I hoped to learn and do tomorrow. She would then share what she’d worked on as a lawyer and an advocate. I loved knowing what legal aid was in first grade and about health-care reform in eighth grade. I remember being so proud of what my mom was doing to achieve more and better opportunities for all kids, including her efforts to improve public schools in Arkansas.

I have so many memories as a kid of tagging along with my mom to work some Saturdays after my Brownie troop meeting or soccer game — a trade-off she made so she could be at those family dinners, those meetings and those games — and looking up to her (figuratively and literally!) as she worked so hard as a lawyer and champion for kids. My mom ensured I knew how lucky I was. Ensuring that every child has the chance to live up to their God-given potential is the driving motivation of my mom’s life. It’s why she’s still working on paid family and medical leave, early childhood education and health-care reform — and why she’ll combat climate change, make college actually affordable and so much more. She knows the future is at stake for all our kids.

  1. She keeps fighting — and never forgets who she is fighting for.

I have seen my mom do some pretty remarkable things — and, yes, I am biased — including helping to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program [or CHIP, which offers low-cost health coverage to children]. In 1994, when I was 14, my mom’s efforts on universal health care were unsuccessful. It was hard to watch, but I wasn’t surprised when my mom didn’t give up. She dusted herself off and got right back out on the front lines to advocate for kids. A few years later [in 1997], CHIP was created. I don’t think it ever occurred to her to stop fighting, because she never forgot what’s at stake. Today, CHIP provides more than 8 million children with the health care they need.

  1. She’s an example to girls.

Politics has taken on a new urgency for me since becoming a parent. Politics now feels more personal than ever before because I know who we elect both shapes the legislation that gets passed and sets an example for our children.

So, while I am unabashedly and unapologetically biased toward my mom, I couldn’t imagine a better president for our children and grandchildren. I am going to vote for the candidate whose actions and words tell my daughter, Charlotte, and my son, Aidan — and all children — that a girl can grow up to be president. And that would be true whether or not Hillary was my mom. I can’t wait to cast my vote for her on November 8 and hope you will too.

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News Source: US Weekly

Kaine Calls Gun Violence a “Public Health Crisis” in Op-Ed

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On Tuesday, an op-ed by Tim Kaine was published by Time magazine in which he talks about gun violence and its threat to the public. Read the full editorial below.

Tim Kaine: Gun Violence Is a Public-Health Crisis

Time Magazine

November 1, 2016

In every elected office I have held over the past 20 years, gun violence has been a serious issue. When I was mayor of Richmond, Virginia, our city had one of the highest homicide rates in the country. When I was governor, our commonwealth experienced the worst campus shooting in U.S. history. And as I serve in the U.S. Senate and our country falls victim to one mass shooting after another, Congress has yet to pass any commonsense gun safety legislation. Like many Americans, I own a gun and am a proud supporter of the Second Amendment, yet my experiences have shown me that supporting the right to bear arms should never stop us from ensuring our communities are as safe as possible.

The worst day of my life was April 16, 2007. I had just arrived in Japan for a two-week trade mission. There was a knock on my hotel room door to inform me of an active shooter on the campus of one of my state’s universities, Virginia Tech. Half a world away, I watched the horrific tragedy unfold on television and made plans to return home as soon as possible. Thirty-two innocent lives— from all around the world, from all walks of life, students and professors alike—were lost that day. Seventeen others were shot and wounded, and another six were injured leaping from classroom windows to escape the carnage.

In the months and years that followed, we worked across the state to take concrete steps to reduce gun violence. The shooting revealed glaring weaknesses in campus security protocols at colleges and universities, in mental health standards, and in the system for background checks before gun purchases, so I convened a multidisciplinary panel to identify actionable solutions. We changed standards for mental health treatment and increased funding for community services while improving campus security and efforts to assist college students suffering from mental illness.

I also worked to make improvements to our background check system, issuing an executive order to ensure that those declared mentally ill and dangerous would be entered into a national database and barred from purchasing weapons. Unfortunately, efforts to close the gun show loophole—which allows anyone, including felons, potential terrorists, and domestic abusers, to purchase weapons without any background check—were undermined in the Virginia legislature, largely under pressure from the National Rifle Association.

When I arrived in the U.S. Senate in January 2013, our country was again reeling from another devastating tragedy: on December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A group of Democrats and Republicans came together after this tragedy to draft compromise legislation that would have closed the gun show loophole and encouraged states to help strengthen the existing background check system. After months of debating, I was sure that this time would be different, that this time my colleagues would have the courage to stand up to the NRA and pass meaningful gun control reform to make our entire country safer. But the same special interests that prevented us from closing the gun show loophole in Virginia in the wake of Virginia Tech were at it again. Ultimately, a minority in the Senate prevented a majority from passing this meaningful, commonsense gun safety legislation.

More recently, in December 2015, the Senate failed to stand up to the NRA and rejected another commonsense bipartisan measure that would have made it illegal for people on the no-fly list to be prohibited from purchasing weapons. If someone has been deemed too dangerous to be allowed on an airplane, why should they be permitted to purchase a firearm?

We have to make a decision about what matters to us. When gun deaths in Virginia outnumber automobile deaths, we have to treat this like the public health crisis it is. Will we have the courage to stand up to a gun lobby that no longer represents the views of American gun owners but instead represents the gun manufacturers?

An overwhelming number of Americans—many of them gun owners—support commonsense efforts to reduce gun violence like background checks, but the NRA and the gun lobby vehemently oppose any efforts to make our country safer and to promote responsible gun ownership. It is in the gun manufacturers’ financial interest to sell as many guns as they can to whomever they can, whenever they can and wherever they can. That motive is what blocks so many states and even Congress from passing background check laws that would keep us safer.

Gun violence has been ever-present throughout my time in public service, but my past experiences have taught me that no matter how tough our problems may be, they pale in comparison to the combined will of the American people who are determined to make our communities safer. I look forward to the day when we, as elected officials and as Americans, live up to our responsibilities and put an end to this crisis.

Tim Kaine is a U.S. Senator from Virginia and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate.

Excerpted from Guns in the Hands of Artists, copyright © 2016 by Jonathan Ferrara. First hardcover edition published Nov. 1, 2016, by Inkshares. All rights reserved.

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News Source: Time

Statement on Trump’s “Legally Dubious” Tax Avoidance Scheme

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Calls on Trump to Release at Least 2015 Tax Returns, Which Are Not Under Audit

Yesterday, the New York Times published new documents that showed Trump engaged in “legally dubious” schemes to avoid paying millions in federal income taxes, even as his own lawyers made clear they likely would not hold up to IRS scrutiny. Trump’s campaign claims the reporting is not true, yet they refuse to produce the only evidence that could prove the Times wrong: Trump’s tax returns.

In response to the new report, Hillary for America deputy communications director Christina Reynolds issued the following statement:

“In the wake of a blockbuster report showing that even Trump’s own lawyers thought the IRS would likely find the “legally dubious” scheme he used to avoid taxes was against the law, the Trump campaign still refuses to release his tax returns. While breaking a precedent running for 40 years, Trump has clung to the excuse that he is under audit, despite no proof that he is and no prohibition for releasing returns under audit. Given that Trump was required to file his 2015 taxes recently, he has no reason to withhold it since it is too soon for him to possibly be under audit for those year. There’s no excuse left for Trump—if he’s not still using these “dubious” schemes to avoid paying taxes, he needs to prove it with his most recent tax returns.”

Trump and his campaign continue to dodge disclosure of these critical documents that could shed light on important issues including his wealth, his questionable charitable giving, his foreign and domestic business entanglements, his personal tax rate and more. The Times’ reporting raising important new questions that underscore the urgency in releasing the tax returns before Election Day.

Key Point: “As he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would likely declare it improper if he were audited.”

  • “Tax experts who reviewed the newly obtained documents for The New York Times said Mr. Trump’s tax avoidance maneuver, conjured from ambiguous provisions of highly technical tax court rulings, clearly pushed the edge of the envelope of what tax laws permitted at the time. ‘Whatever loophole existed was not ‘exploited’ here, but stretched beyond any recognition,’ said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who helped draft tax legislation in the early 1990s.”
  • “One letter, 25 pages long, analyzed seven distinct components of Mr. Trump’s proposed tax maneuver. It found only “substantial authority” for six of the components. In the stilted language of tax opinion letters, the phrase “substantial authority” is a red flag that the lawyers believe the I.R.S. can be expected to rule against the taxpayer roughly two-thirds of the time. In other words, Mr. Trump’s tax lawyers were telling him there were at least six different reasons the I.R.S. would likely cry foul if he were audited.”
  • “Regardless of whether the I.R.S. objected, Trump’s tax avoidance in this case violated a central principle of American tax law, said Mr. Buckley, the former chief of staff for Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, who later served as chief tax counsel for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee. ‘He deducted somebody else’s losses,’ Mr. Buckley said.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Donald Trump Used Legally Dubious Method to Avoid Paying Taxes

New York Times

By: David Barstow, Mike McIntire, Patricia Cohen, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner

October 31, 2016

Donald J. Trump proudly acknowledges he did not pay a dime in federal income taxes for years on end. He insists he merely exploited tax loopholes legally available to any billionaire — loopholes he says Hillary Clinton failed to close during her years in the United States Senate. “Why didn’t she ever try to change those laws so I couldn’t use them?” Mr. Trump asked during a campaign rally last month.

But newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would likely declare it improper if he were audited.

Thanks to this one maneuver — which was later outlawed by Congress — Mr. Trump potentially escaped paying tens of millions of dollars in federal personal income taxes. It is impossible to know for sure because Mr. Trump has declined to release his tax returns, or even a summary of his returns, breaking a practice followed by every Republican and Democratic presidential candidate for more than four decades.

Tax experts who reviewed the newly obtained documents for The New York Times said Mr. Trump’s tax avoidance maneuver, conjured from ambiguous provisions of highly technical tax court rulings, clearly pushed the edge of the envelope of what tax laws permitted at the time. “Whatever loophole existed was not ‘exploited’ here, but stretched beyond any recognition,” said Steven M. Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who helped draft tax legislation in the early 1990s.

Moreover, the tax experts said the maneuver trampled a core tenet of American tax policy by conferring enormous tax benefits to Mr. Trump for losing vast amounts of other people’s money — in this case, money investors and banks had entrusted to him to build a casino empire in Atlantic City.

As that empire floundered in the early 1990s, Mr. Trump pressured his financial backers to forgive hundreds of millions of dollars in debt he could not repay. While the cancellation of so much debt gave new life to Mr. Trump’s casinos, it created a potentially crippling problem with the Internal Revenue Service. In the eyes of the I.R.S., a dollar of canceled debt is the same as a dollar of taxable income. This meant Mr. Trump faced the painful prospect of having to report the hundreds of millions of dollars of canceled debt as if it were hundreds of millions of dollars of taxable income.

But Mr. Trump’s audacious tax-avoidance maneuver gave him a way to simply avoid reporting any of that canceled debt to the I.R.S. “He’s getting something for absolutely nothing,” John L. Buckley, who served as the chief of staff for Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation in 1993 and 1994, said in an interview

The new documents, which include correspondence from Mr. Trump’s tax lawyers and bond offering disclosure statements, might also help explain how Mr. Trump reported a staggering loss of $916 million in his 1995 tax returns — portions of which were first published by The Times last month.

United States tax laws allowed Mr. Trump to use that $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income. But tax experts have been debating how Mr. Trump could have legally declared a deduction of that magnitude at all. Among other things, they have noted that Mr. Trump’s huge casino losses should have been offset by the hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income he surely must have reported to the I.R.S. in the form of canceled casino debt.

By avoiding reporting his canceled casino debt in the first place, however, Mr. Trump’s $916 million deduction would not have been reduced by hundreds of millions of dollars. He could have preserved the deduction and used it instead to avoid paying income taxes he might otherwise have owed on books, TV shows or branding deals. Under the rules in effect in 1995, the $916 million loss could have been used to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income for 18 years.

Mr. Trump declined to comment for this article.

“Your e-mail suggests either a fundamental misunderstanding or an intentional misreading of the law,” Hope Hicks, Mr. Trump’s spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Your thesis is a criticism, not just of Mr. Trump, but of all taxpayers who take the time and spend the money to try to comply with the dizzyingly complex and ambiguous tax laws without paying more tax than they owe. Mr. Trump does not think that taxpayers should file returns that resolve all doubt in favor of the I.R.S. And any tax experts that you have consulted are engaged in pure speculation. There is no news here.”

Mr. Trump financed his three Atlantic City gambling resorts with $1.3 billion in debt, most of it in the form of high interest junk bonds. By late 1990, after months of escalating operating losses, New Jersey casino regulators were warning that “a complete financial collapse of the Trump Organization was not out of the question.” By 1992, all three casinos had filed for bankruptcy and bondholders were ultimately forced to forgive hundreds of millions of dollars in debt to salvage at least part of their investment.

The story of how Mr. Trump sidestepped a potentially ruinous tax bill from that forgiven debt emerged from documents recently discovered by The Times during a search of the casino bankruptcy filings. The documents offer only a partial description of events, and none of Mr. Trump’s tax lawyers agreed to be interviewed for this article.

At the time, Mr. Trump would have been hard-pressed to pay tens of millions of dollars in taxes. According to assessments of his financial stability by New Jersey casino regulators, there were times in the early 1990s when Mr. Trump had no more than a few million dollars in his various bank accounts. He was so strapped for cash that his creditors were apoplectic when they learned that Mr. Trump had bought Marla Maples an engagement ring estimated to be worth $250,000.

It is unclear who first glimpsed a way for Mr. Trump to dodge a huge tax bill. But the basic maneuver he used was essentially a new twist on a contentious strategy corporations had been using for years to avoid taxes created by canceled debt.

The strategy — known among tax practitioners as a “stock-for-debt swap” — relies on mathematical sleight of hand. Say a company can repay only $60 million of a $100 million bank loan. If the bank forgives the remaining $40 million, the company faces a large tax bill because it will have to report that canceled $40 million debt as taxable income.

Clever tax lawyers found a way around this inconvenience. The company would simply swap stock for the $40 million in debt it could not repay. This way, it would look as if the entire $100 million loan had been repaid, and presto: There would be no tax bill due for $40 million in canceled debt.

Best of all, it did not matter if the actual market value of the stock was considerably less than the $40 million in canceled debt. (Stock in an effectively insolvent company could easily be next to worthless.) Even in the opaque, rarefied world of gaming impenetrable tax regulations, this particular maneuver was about as close as a company could get to waving a magic wand and making taxes disappear.

Alarmed by the obvious potential for abuse, Congress and the I.R.S. made repeated efforts during the 1980s to curb this brand of tax wizardry before banning its use by corporations altogether in 1993. But while policy makers were busy trying to stop corporations from using this particular ploy, the endlessly creative club of elite tax advisers was inventing a new way to circumvent the ban, this time through the use of partnerships.

This was the twist that was especially beneficial to Mr. Trump. Wealthy families like the Trumps often own real estate and other assets through partnerships rather than corporations. Mr. Trump, for example, owned all three of his Atlantic City casinos through partnerships, an arrangement that allowed casino profits to flow directly to his personal tax returns when times were good.

But what if times were bad? What if Mr. Trump’s casino partnerships could not repay hundreds of millions of dollars they owed to bondholders? And what if the bondholders were persuaded to forgive this debt? Wouldn’t that force the partnerships — i.e., Mr. Trump — to report hundreds of millions of dollars of taxable income in the form of canceled debt?

Enter the tax advisers with their audacious plan: Why not eliminate all that taxable income from canceled debt by swapping “partnership equity” for debt in exactly the same way corporations had been swapping company stock for debt.

True enough, the I.R.S. and Congress had clearly signaled their disapproval of the basic concept. Fred T. Goldberg, who was the I.R.S. commissioner under George Bush, recalled in an interview that the I.R.S. frowned on partnership equity-for-debt swaps for the same reason it objected to corporate stock-for-debt swaps. “The fiction is that the partnership interest has the same value as the debt,” he said. Lee A. Sheppard, a contributing editor to Tax Notes, wrote in 1991 that trying to find a legal justification for this tactic was akin to proving “the existence of the Loch Ness monster.”

On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump boasts of his mastery of tax loopholes and claims no other candidate for the White House has ever known more about the tax code. This background, he argues with evident disgust, gives him special insight into the way wealthy elites buy off politicians and hire high-priced lawyers and accountants to rig the tax system — just as, he claims, they rig elections.

That insight was on display in 1991 and 1992 when he was laying the groundwork to make a multimillion-dollar tax bill disappear.

Before proceeding with his plan, Mr. Trump did what most prudent taxpayers do — he sought a formal tax opinion letter. Such letters, typically written by highly-paid lawyers who spend entire careers mastering the roughly 10,000 pages of ever-changing statutes that make up the United States tax code, can provide important protection to taxpayers. As long as a tax adviser blesses a particular tax strategy in a formal opinion letter, the taxpayer most likely will not face penalties even if the I.R.S. ultimately rules the strategy was improper.

The language used in tax opinion letters has a specialized meaning understood by all tax professionals. So, for example, when a tax lawyer writes that a shelter is “more likely than not” going to be approved by the I.R.S., this means there is at least a 51 percent chance the shelter will withstand scrutiny. (This is known as an “M.L.T.N.” letter in the vernacular of tax lawyers.) A “should” letter means there is about a 75 percent chance the I.R.S. will not object. The gold standard, a “will” letter, means the I.R.S. is all but certain to bless the tax avoidance strategy.

But the opinion letters Mr. Trump received from his tax lawyers at Willkie Farr & Gallagher were far from the gold standard. The letters bluntly warned that there was no statute, regulation or judicial opinion that explicitly permitted Mr. Trump’s tax gambit. “Due to the lack of definitive judicial or administrative authority,” his lawyers wrote, “substantial uncertainties exist with respect to many of the tax consequences of the plan.”

One letter, 25 pages long, analyzed seven distinct components of Mr. Trump’s proposed tax maneuver. It found only “substantial authority” for six of the components. In the stilted language of tax opinion letters, the phrase “substantial authority” is a red flag that the lawyers believe the I.R.S. can be expected to rule against the taxpayer roughly two-thirds of the time. In other words, Mr. Trump’s tax lawyers were telling him there were at least six different reasons the I.R.S. would likely cry foul if he were audited. In anticipation of that possibility, the lawyers even laid out a fallback plan that would have allowed Mr. Trump to spread the pain of a large tax hit over many years if the I.R.S. ultimately balked.

It is unclear whether the I.R.S. ever challenged Mr. Trump’s use of this specific tax maneuver. According to a financial disclosure statement prepared by Mr. Trump’s accountants, he was under audit by tax authorities as of 1993, only a year after he avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income because of this legally suspect tactic. But the results of that audit are unknown and the agency declined to comment on Monday.

Regardless of whether the I.R.S. objected, Mr. Trump’s tax avoidance in this case violated a central principle of American tax law, said Mr. Buckley, the former chief of staff for Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation who later served as chief tax counsel for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

“He deducted somebody else’s losses,” Mr. Buckley said. By that Mr. Buckley means that only the bondholders who forgave Mr. Trump’s unpaid casino debts should have been allowed to use those losses to offset future income and reduce their taxes. That Mr. Trump used the same losses to reduce his taxes ultimately increases the tax burden on everyone else, Mr. Buckley explained. “He is double dipping big time.”

In any event, Mr. Trump can no longer benefit from the same maneuver. Just as Congress acted in 1993 to ban stock-for-debt swaps by corporations, it acted in 2004 to ban equity-for-debt swaps by partnerships.

Among the members of Congress who voted to finally close the loophole: Senator Hillary Clinton of New York.

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Kaine Pens Op-Ed on Importance of Religious Mission Service

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Tim Kaine published an op-ed in the Deseret News on the importance of religious mission work in America. In his essay, Kaine references his own missionary work as a Roman Catholic and talks about other religious organizations with strong missionary ties around the world. Kaine reflects on the lessons he learned working in Honduras saying, “Today, I recognize selfless leadership in all corners of our nation, by people in all kinds of clothing and of all skin colors, religions and incomes. And I take courage in the fact that men and women from all backgrounds still come together in good faith to address the challenges we face.” Read Kaine’s op-ed HERE.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and Instagram. Also, be sure to subscribe to the campaign’s official Podcast, With Her.

News Source: Deseret News

Chelsea Clinton Pens Op-Ed About Progress

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Chelsea Clinton published an essay earlier this week on the site Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. In the editorial, Chelsea argues that it is the responsibility of every generation to keep pushing America forward. To illustrate her point, she outlines a number of key points in Hillary Clinton’s career. Chelsea speaks about her mother’s work for the Children’s Defense Fund, her work as First Lady of Arkansas to improve the public school system, her effort to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and her time as Senator from New York. Chelsea concludes by saying that the most important thing everyone can do to ensure progress is to vote. Vote for president and down ballot local races because voting is what gives us a voice our our political system. Read the full editorial HERE.

For all the latest, follow our Scheduled Events page and follow Clinton on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and Instagram. Also, be sure to subscribe to the campaign’s official Podcast, With Her.

News Source: Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls