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he mystery of Donald Trump’s tax returns thickens despite the fact that a partial copy of his 2005 federal filing has mysteriously surfaced, and then published by journalist David Cay Johnston of MSNBC.

The document sheds little light on the financial dealings of the self-proclaimed art of the deal expert. It feels cherry picked, to make a point, hence the suspicion from the outset that it was the same Trump who has decided to disclose it surreptitiously.

Be that as it may, it was authenticated by the White House. It shows that in 2005 Trump paid about $38 million on an income of $150 million at a tax rate of 25%.

What is intriguing is that the document has drawn outrageous protests from the White House, never mind the protection of such publishing by the first amendment of the Constitution unless obtained by force, stealth or solicitation.

Johnston, in fact, obtained them unsolicited; he found them in his mail box, but the White House, nevertheless continues to reiterate its cavalier accusations of “media’s dishonesty,” implying that the partial returns were stolen (a tweet by the president the next day, said as much putting in doubt the way Johnston obtained it). Somebody with a black hood on, perhaps former president Obama, went into trump tower at 3 at night and stole the document…Inspector Clouseau to the rescue…

At the same time a tweet by Trump junior asserts that this will put to rest once and for all the charge that his father evaded showing his tax returns. Even inspector Clouseau must feel that this is like having the cake and eating it too.

But the fact is that the document, such as it is, remains awfully inadequate. It does not include what is most important: the sources of the income, the partners, to whom were interests paid, other relationship which will help an investigator determine whether or not Trump faces unprecedented conflicts of interests. Meanwhile the stubborn refusal to disclose his tax returns stands. The lame excuse continues to be that he cannot show them because he is under audit.

This was the rather self-serving official comment of the White House: “Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required. That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that.”

What is also undeniable in this latest nefarious corruption episode of the Caligula Presidency is that the potential for unethical conflicts of interest remains as high as ever. Both the president and his immediate family have retained interests in their business thus violating the Constitution’s prohibition on receiving foreign payments while in office, and of eliminating even the appearance of inpropriaty.

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Emanuel L. Paparella, Ph.D.

Professor Paparella has earned a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism, with a dissertation on the philosopher of history Giambattista Vico, from Yale University. He is a scholar interested in current relevant philosophical, political and cultural issues; the author of numerous essays and books on the EU cultural identity among which A New Europe in search of its Soul, and Europa: An Idea and a Journey. Presently he teaches philosophy and humanities at Barry University, Miami, Florida. He is a prolific writer and has written hundreds of essays for both traditional academic and on-line magazines among which Metanexus and Ovi. One of his current works in progress is a book dealing with the issue of cultural identity within the phenomenon of “the neo-immigrant” exhibited by an international global economy strong on positivism and utilitarianism and weak on humanism and ideals.

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