Trump has become as well known for his psychological projection as he is for his myriad potential crimes. Trump confessed his own shortcomings by projecting them onto others so much that it became a tell-tale.
So while it may not shock anyone that he’s nearly overturned by fraud charges referenced by the FBI and IRS, it’s a moment of sweet poetic justice for those targeted by his IRS.
James found evidence of federal bank fraud by the Trumps and turned over the evidence to federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and the IRS. pic.twitter.com/Fb5SPyCzKD
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticianSarah) September 21, 2022
Trump appeared to be using the IRS as another weapon to use against his critics in an effort to silence them. Under Trump, both James Comey and Andrew McCabe were targets for the “autopsy without death” “random” IRS audit.
Things looked so bad that the Trump-appointed IRS chief had to refer Comey and McCabe’s audit decision to the inspector general for review after media investigations followed the New York Times coverage.
This website was also the target of an invasive audit under Trump, not once, but twice. The first audit took years, they found nothing but kept fishing and asking for random documents from years ago. When it was finally closed, a new audit for the same returns was opened by another IRS office just weeks later. (The second audit was eventually closed over objections that they wanted to revise documents they had already reviewed.) We asked several times what prompted the audit, and got different answers from ‘it was random’ to ‘getting an idea’. from how a digital media company worked’ to ‘spending in the DNC media tent 2016’. (They cited that the 2016 Democratic National Convention stood out as a rather obvious sign that resentment could be at play.)
The fact that this oh-so-rare random audit was initiated when there was no red flag that prompted it and then immediately followed by another audit of the same return takes the “random” part of random audit to a new level of hard-to-do. to believe.
“Among tax attorneys, the most sweeping form of arbitrary control conducted by the IRS is known, only in part, jokingly as ‘an autopsy without the benefit of death,’” reported the New York Times.
“The odds of being selected for that audit in any given year are slim — of the nearly 153 million individual returns filed for 2017, for example, the IRS targeted about 5,000, or about one in 30,600.”
I’m not a tax specialist, and I have no idea if the audit we were subjected to twice was the same kind of audit as Comey and McCabe, but I do know that the first audit took years, disrupted our business, cost a lot of money for a small company, and took significant resources from us at a time when we were already struggling because of other problems caused by the former president.
One of the goals of an authoritarian person is to use the power levers at their disposal to sideline media that are out of line with the business. Signs that a country that autocratizes is first to be found in the media coverage and self-censorship of media and critics, due to backlash.
A fascist must own its own media, US conservatives learned at CPAC courtesy of a no longer democratic Hungary. This must be done to maintain an authoritarian power as the people must be fooled into seeing the leader as strong and capable and they must believe that he is the Big Daddy who has the power to run a great economy , good jobs and good times for his people. The foamy gauze necessary to sell an autocrat cannot withstand a flourishing, independent, free press.
While there is no evidence that Trump ordered any of these audits, the atmosphere he created was one where subordinates knew he wanted critics punished and often took it upon themselves to do so, even if it involved standards, ethics and laws. violated.
Trump is responsible for his lawless approach to government, for surrounding criminals and people/families who treated the White House as just another source of power for further operations that resemble and operate much like organized crime. The message Trump sent through his choices, his own actions, the people around him, his own behavior and words was clear: Catch the critics, punish the opponents and threaten the witnesses.
The fact is that Trump did his best to delegitimize political news, commentary, analysis, and personalities that served no purpose in his propaganda agenda. His administration targeted White House correspondents in a manner intended to falsely label them as unreliable narrators, and he himself publicly fought major media outlets in what may have been a lucrative financial game for both of them.
The frail man who could not handle the control of his office as president routinely projected his own shortcomings onto others so often that it became a running joke, which he accused others of, he did times ten. “Crooked Hillary” just warms us up – Trump attacked Mitt Romney for failing to release his tax returns and attacked Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information. Projection projection projection, what a story you are telling.
And so here we are with this inevitable IRS story. Trump assumed everyone else committed crimes like him. He was wrong.
So while many of us have been targeted by the IRS under Trump and his IRS officials, Trump is the one who is really in danger because he is the one who routinely changed the valuations based on how it benefited him and he will be held accountable to the Fed and the IRS for this one. What Trump did was intentional and systematic according to the 200-plus page document submitted by AG Letitia James. It’s a little easier to believe this, because not only did Michael Cohen tell us this years ago, but anyone with any knowledge of how a particular kind of branding agent works might suspect that the documents wouldn’t match.
It would be poetic justice for Trump to overturn an audit of tax returns he hid for years by falsely blaming an ongoing audit for why he refused to do so.
Schadenfreude, how do you tease a nation.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politician News and co-hosts Politician Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news and talk shows, and in print media, including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Association of Professional Journalists.