Last night, the New York Times, in a bombshell report, revealed that they obtained partial copies of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax returns from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
Times reporter Susanne Craig received the copies of Mr. Trump’s return in the mail. The envelope she received had a New York City postmark and had a Trump Organization return address on it. In the Times report, they did not indicate that they knew who sent the returns to them. But in a revealing interview this morning on the CNN program New Day, when asked who the source of the returns was, Ms. Craig said she was not at liberty to reveal her source, indicating that she knows who sent the returns to her.
Mr. Trump’s tax returns, as revealed by the Times, were jointly filed with his then wife Marla Maples.
And there are a few clues that indicate that the returns may have been leaked by Ms.Maples or someone close to her now or in the past that had access to her tax returns.
Here Are The Clues:
Her Copy Of The Returns?
While the first pages of his Connecticut and New York tax returns don’t require a signature, the first page of the New Jersey non-resident tax returns do require a signature, and there is a “Sign-Here” signature flag made by the post-it company pointing to a space for Ms. Maples signature. Now, this doesn’t mean definitively that the return was leaked by Ms. Maples but it does raise questions.
She Would Likely Not Be Punished For Leaking Returns
Outside of Mr. Trump, Ms. Maples would be the only other person that could legally provide the tax returns to an outside party. Both the New York Department of Taxation and the Connecticut Department of Revenue allow taxpayers, who have filed a joint return, to authorize the release of the returns to an outside party. They don’t require both filers to authorize the release, the forms provided by both states only require one of the tax-payers signatures. So if Ms. Maples were caught leaking these returns, she would not face criminal charges for doing so.
It’s also unlikely that she would be violating her confidentiality agreement with Mr. Trump by leaking these returns. I spoke to two lawyers that specialize in family law and both told me that they have never seen a restriction around tax returns in a prenup or settlement agreement. They have seen such restrictions when it comes to financial statements, investment records but it would be hard for Mr. Trump to demand that Ms. Maples own tax information be kept private.
If Ms. Maples did indeed leak these returns, it would also absolve the Times of any criminal or civil penalties.
The Times Did Not Indicate That They Contacted Ms. Maples For Comment
Despite the fact that the Trump campaign said that the Times is “an extension of the Clinton campaign”, they’re not (after all they broke the email server story in March of 2015). The Times had these returns for ten days and took their reporting on these returns seriously — even going so far as hiring tax experts to analyze the returns. They sought a comment from the Trump campaign, they spoke to the accountant who prepared and signed the returns.
So it would be highly unusual for them to not contact Ms. Maples about the tax returns given that her name is on all of the returns and her signature is on the New Jersey return. Yet the Times, in their story, does not indicate that they contacted Ms. Maples. Even if she didn’t return their calls or emails, they would still indicate that they reached out to her and had not heard back.
Clues From The Past
Ms. Maples divorce with Mr. Trump (much like his first divorce from Ivana Trump) was acrimonious, and she has indicated in the past that she would reveal what she thought of Mr. Trump should he decide to run for President.
When Mr. Trump was kicking the tires on a presidential run in 1999, Ms. Maples told the London Telegraph in an interview:
“If he is really serious about being president and runs in the general election next year, I will not be silent. I will feel it is my duty as an American citizen to tell the people what he is really like.”
Ms. Maples contributed $2,000 to Ms. Clinton’s presidential run in 2007 and $60 to Ready PAC formerly known as Ready For Hillary, a group created in 2013 to build enthusiasm and momentum for an eventual Clinton run.
We may never know if Ms. Maples gave copies of her tax returns to the New York Times. But, if she did, it would certainly exact the ultimate revenge on a man who once had his lawyer say to a reporter, “Ms. Maples didn’t have the capacity to understand, participate, or take a role in the business world.”