At 1:34 p.m. Sunday, Donald Trump’s second ex-wife, Marla Maples, tweeted a photograph of a pumpkin patch. Does what happened next contain clues that confirm she anonymously mailed Trump’s 1995 tax return to The New York Times?
Maybe, or maybe it’s nothing at all! Please bear with me here.
Maples, who told me last month she’s been practicing Kabbalah for twenty years, captioned the photo of the pumpkins and the hay, “#FallLove Breathe it in as if 2day’s the first day of your life. The kabbalist’s say 2nite Adam&Eve were created. S… [sic]”
In response to the tweet, Marc Caputo, a Politico reporter, said, “TFW you serve up a cold plate of revenge and then appreciate fall as you think about Etz Hayim, the Shekinah & Isaac ben Luria.”
Twitter user @PoliticalBuffs then replied to Maples and Caputo, “wow. How do u know abt those stuff? [sic]”
To which Maples said, “A lot of studying & an open mind to learn” with both a star emoji and a prayer emoji.
On Saturday night, the Times published Trump’s 1995 tax return, a three-page document that revealed he had declared a $916 million loss, which, in the Times’ assessment, means he then potentially could have legally avoided “paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years.”
This is the sparkly unicorn of opposition research relating to the Republican nominee, who has thus far refused to participate in the disclosure of financial documents customary of major party nominees since the Nixon era. Reporters, editors, and publishers wanted Trump’s tax returns so badly that Dean Baquet, the Times’ executive editor, publicly said he’d be willing to go to jail to publish them, which in the end, was apparently an effective means of obtaining them.
But nobody knows who sent them.
The documents were mailed with a New York City postmark and a Trump Tower return address to Times reporter Susanne Craig, who covers City Hall but in August displayed a nuanced understanding of Trump’s business dealings with the story “Trump’s Empire: A Maze of Debts and Opaque Ties.” As far as the public knows, that’s the only information about the sender.
Besides Trump, who would be in possession of such a valuable document?
In 1995, Trump was married to the zen actress (their holy union would come to its unfortunate conclusion two years later). She signed the tax returns “Marla Trump” in her delicate script.
Her spokeswoman, Elissa Buchter, did not respond when asked if she was behind the leak, not that she would have any incentive to. The attorney who represented Maples in her divorce from Trump (and also represented Ivana Trump in her divorce from Trump, but that’s another story), Robert Stephan Cohen, did not respond to two phone calls Saturday night to his office and home.
One source who previously worked for Trump’s campaign speculated, via text, that the leaker might be someone in the casino business, where the mogul made many enemies over the years and might’ve had to present his taxes.
The only thing we can say for certain is that Trump possesses this document, and at least at one point, so did Maples.
But did she do it?
Maples is ambivalent about publicly undermining Trump’s candidacy.
Her spokeswoman reached out to me last month to arrange an interview. Since I, and The Daily Beast more broadly, have aggressively covered Trump’s unprecedented candidacy since he launched his campaign in June 2015, Maples’ interest in chatting seemed an indication that she was perhaps not on the Trump Train.
But during our hour and a half chat, she stopped short of criticizing Trump in any meaningful way—not even off the record. She was afraid, she said, she might upset their daughter, Tiffany, who is just now, at the age of 22, beginning to forge a relationship with her father.
Her predicament is incredible: a self-described liberal and deeply spiritual woman, who devotes much of her time to charity, who no doubt possesses some of the most intimate and likely damaging information about the man who may become president of the United States, and she feels as though she can’t say an honest word. Still, Maples tried her best to let her feelings be known in between the lines, or in vague criticisms of people who judge.
Maples returned from visiting family in Georgia with Tiffany to New York, where she now lives, on September 20th. We met the 21st. The Times received the tax returns the 23rd.
Which brings us to Sunday’s tweet.
Maples is either genuinely talking about Kabbalah, or she’s coyly copping to distributing the most important document yet published relating to her ex’s murky financial history.
Either way, Marla Maples is already great.
A previous version of this article incorrectly asserted the Times was unaware of the source of the documents. That is not clear at this time.