It's the end of a year-long dispute: the US Supreme Court allows Congressional Democrats to see ex-President Trump's tax records. He's taking a defeat that could still be dangerous for him.
When Donald Trump gets angry, he sometimes throws his lunch against the wall - and now he has reason to do so again. The U.S. Supreme Court specifically allows House Democrats to see its tax records. This is the end of a year-long battle by the lawyers, a battle by the Democrats against Trump.
Flashback to 2016: During the election campaign, candidate Trump refuses to make his tax documents public. It's not mandatory, but it's a good tradition: if you want to get into the White House, you open the books beforehand as a confidence-building measure. The publicly known tax documents at the time already showed that he had not paid any federal taxes in some years. When the Democrat Hillary Clinton accused him of this in a TV duel, he only said: "That shows how smart I am."
But Trump's refusal smelled suspicious from the start. If you have nothing to hide, you should have nothing to fear. After winning the majority in the House of Representatives in 2018, the Democrats tried to get hold of the documents. Trump sent his lawyers. They blocked, slowed down and braked where they could. Until now.
The Democrats are celebrating a last-minute success and now have to keep up. They only have a few weeks to study the documents. At the beginning of January, the new Congress, which was recently elected, will meet. Since Republicans will then have a majority in the House of Representatives, they could withdraw the tax records requirement. Trump would remain seated on his secrets. Specifically, the four years of his presidency and the year before and after have now been released. Now there is a chance that there will be an official report about it.
An example of this could be his 1995 tax return, which The New York Times published six years ago. In it he reported a loss of $916 million. According to the report, this could have resulted in the entrepreneur not paying any taxes for the following 18 years.
It doesn't just have to be evidence of tricks that could harm Trump, but perhaps also such reports of losses. Trump's standing is based on his wealth and success, that he's a billionaire, a winner. If the documents were to show that the bankruptcy vulture was actually constantly circling over him, this aura would collapse. Trump would be there as what he despises most: as a loser.
His people meanwhile say what they always say. That this is all about party politics, that the Democrats are targeting Trump. They might even be right about that. On the other hand, the situation is different in numerous other proceedings that Trump has to deal with. For example in the aforementioned tax process in New York, but also in the secret documents that he took from the White House to his country residence in Florida. Then there's the investigation into the January 6, 2021 congressional storm or his attempts to influence the 2020 Georgia presidential election. Some say Trump just wants to be president again to be immune to all the possible lawsuits.
Trump is still an 800-pound gorilla, according to Larry Hogan, former Maryland governor. The moderate Republican meant that the ex-president was still the heavyweight in his party. But Trump has now lost three elections - the one for the 2020 presidency, the following Senate runoff in Georgia and the congressional elections this November. And he, Hogan, was tired of losing.
Embarrassing tax assessments will probably not give Trump the final uppercut. He has too often been declared politically dead for such predictions. His base will forgive him anything anyway, if they even notice. But he could still slip away a few percentage points from more critical Republicans and independents that he badly needs in the race for the White House. Reason enough, then, to throw lunch against the wall once again.