In a fine example of vintage journalism, New York Times reporter Susan Craig landed a scoop that every newshound in the world wanted—a copy of Donald Trump’s tax returns. For that, we have old fashioned mail and an IBM Selectric typewriter to thank.
Trump is the first Presidential candidate to refuse to release any of his tax records since 1972. There are numerous questions about his finances and charitable giving that his tax returns could clear up but no one has been able to get a copy. That is until a three-page document showed up through Craig’s letter box. The document appeared to be his tax records from 1995 and it showed that he declared a $916 million loss that year—that huge deduction would have entitled him to wait up to 18 years before paying any federal income taxes.
This morning, Craig recounted how it all went down. She says that her colleagues make fun of her devotion to snail mail but they were not laughing when the manila envelope containing Trump’s returns showed up. She interrupted her teammate David Barstow who was on the phone by waving the pages in his face. He quickly ended the call.
But they still had to verify the authenticity of the records. After tracking down, Jack Mitnick, a semiretired accountant who prepared the taxes in ‘95 they were able to arrange a meeting. Mitnick said they appeared to be legitimate but one strange detail solidified their authenticity.
The first two digits of the $915,729,293 figure were different than the rest. Mitnick said he had to use an IBM Selectric typewriter to add them because his tax software wouldn’t allow a number that high!
Craig ends with a little advice for reporters: Check your letter box. No PGP keys required.
Photo: Flickr/Tomislav Medak