Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes: The political drama of the week [before the weekend] — the revelation that, in 1995, Donald Trump claimed nine hundred and sixteen million dollars in losses and as a result might not have had to pay any federal income taxes for two decades — was a New York story in every particular. Its theme was the comeuppance of the capital class by the hand of brainier, laboring professionals. It had a midtown office-tower setting and an earnest protagonist, the Times metro reporter Susanne Craig, who found Trump’s tax returns because she is a compulsive checker of her newsroom mailbox. It had a vengeful ghost: whichever shrewd, jilted ex-wife or shrewd, jilted ex-C.P.A. photocopied the returns and sent them to the press in the first place. And, at the center of it all, there was an eighty-year-old real-estate accountant named Jack Mitnick.
Mitnick functioned both as the story’s narrative pivot and its moral anchor. His signature was on one of the tax forms sent to the Times, and the paper’s reporters tracked him down in Florida, where Mitnick now lives in semiretirement, to try to confirm that the documents were authentic. Mitnick was wary, but eventually he agreed to meet a reporter in a bagel shop. The Times describes the scene: “ ‘This is legit,’ he said, stabbing his finger into the documents.” That “stabbing” is a nice flourish. It describes, after all, the story’s essential plot. [Continue reading…]