Donald Trump Tax Expose Started with an Anonymous Manila Envelope Mailed to a New York Times Reporter!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times lit a firestorm this weekend in the Donald Trump presidential candidacy by publishing his 1995 tax return showing that he took a loss of $915,729,293. that likely resulted in him not having to pay federal taxes for the past eighteen years.  One of the reporters, Susanne Craig, tells how she received Trump’s tax return in a manila envelope mailed to her from an anonymous sender.

“My colleagues make fun of my old-fashioned devotion to my mailbox.

It’s about 30 feet from my desk — among all the other third-floor employees’ mailboxes — and I check it constantly, always hoping a tipster will have sent me some revealing letter or secret document.

In Metro, we get a lot of junk mail and are regularly flooded with correspondence from prisoners in New York’s penitentiaries.

But Friday, Sept. 23, was different.

I walked to my mailbox and spotted a manila envelope, postmarked New York, NY, with a return address of The Trump Organization. My heart skipped a beat.

I have been on the hunt for Donald J. Trump’s tax returns. Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has broken with decades-long tradition and refused to make his returns public. I have written extensively about his finances, but like almost every other reporter, I was eager to see his actual returns.

The envelope looked legitimate. I opened it, anxiously, and was astonished.

Inside were what appeared to be pages from Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax records, containing detailed figures that revealed his tax strategies. Almost immediately, I walked over to the desk of David Barstow — a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and my teammate in the quest for Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

He was on the phone. I waved the tax documents in front of him. He abruptly ended the call with whomever he was talking to.

We cleared out the investigations team conference room and, with our colleagues Megan Twohey and Russ Buettner, started drawing up a battle plan.

We obsessed over the documents, the envelope, the postmark, the date on the postmark — everything. We even checked every other mailbox on the third floor — and there are hundreds of them — in case the tipster had mailed additional documents to any other reporter.”

Craig goes on to comment how they verified the tax return and how she and her colleagues developed the strategy for reporting its contents. 

She concluded:

“The whole experience has left me eager to share a bit of advice with my fellow reporters: Check your mailboxes. Especially nowadays, when people are worried that anything sent by email will leave forensic fingerprints, “snail mail” is a great way to communicate with us anonymously.”


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