Trump Said to Resist Pressure to Show Taxes After NYT Storyby and
Billionaire holds his ground after report of $916 million loss
Republican’s backers say Trump a ‘genius’ at handling finances
Donald Trump won’t release any new tax information in response to revelations that he claimed a massive tax loss in 1995 that potentially allowed him to eliminate his federal income-tax bill for almost two decades, according to two people familiar with the campaign’s thinking.
The New York Times reported late Saturday that the Republican presidential nominee recorded a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax return, and as a result may have been able to reduce his tax bills for as many as 18 years.
The report is expected to increase pressure on Trump to release his tax returns, as major party nominees have for decades. He has said he won’t do so until the Internal Revenue Service concludes an audit. While no law prevents people from disclosing their records while under audit, tax advisers say doing so would subject the returns to public scrutiny that might uncover issues auditors had missed.
Trump’s supporters shot back on Sunday against the Times’ report, calling the real estate developer a “genius” and portraying him as a turn-around artist who would be good for the country.
“He’s a genius at how to take advantage of legal remedies that can help your company survive and grow,” former New York City Mayor and Trump campaign adviser Rudy Giuliani said on ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Giuliani said that “great men have big failures.”
“What it shows is what an absolute mess the tax code is,” Trump adviser and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no one who has showed more genius to maneuver around the tax code.”
Trump struck a similar tone in a response on Twitter: “I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them.”
The Times story cited Trump’s former accountant, Jack Mitnick, as recalling that Trump’s former wife, Ivana Trump, “almost always” asked more questions about their annual tax returns than her then-husband. Mitnick said he couldn’t address details of Trump’s finances, the Times reported, but he did discuss Trump’s approach to taxes, describing his “brash and undisciplined style” and contrasting it with the attention to detail of his father, the late Fred Trump.
‘Fought and Clawed’
Mitnick, who handled Donald Trump’s tax affairs in the 1990s, is now retired. During a brief telephone interview on Sunday, he declined to comment on Trump’s 1995 tax return.
Christie, who’s serving as the head of Trump’s transition team, said there’s no allegation the developer violated the law. “He fought and clawed back to build a new fortune,” Christie said. “This is actually a very good story for Donald Trump.”
Democrats continued an attack that presidential nominee Hillary Clinton used in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26, when she said that Trump may be paying “zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health” by avoiding federal income tax.
“If Mr. Giuliani thinks that Mr. Trump is smart and all the rest of us are dummies because we believe in America, we believe in our kids, we believe in national defense, well, I think they have a very distorted view of the American people and what this country is about,” Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Clinton’s competitor in this year’s Democratic primary, said on ABC.
Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, said on NBC that Trump embodied a “rigged system.”
The New York Times story capped a week in which Trump was widely seen as losing the debate against Clinton, an event watched by more than 84 million Americans to make it the most-watched in history.
Some 53 percent of American adults say Clinton won the debate, while 18 percent say Trump won, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted Sept. 28-30 and released on Sunday. The percent of Americans expressing an unfavorable opinion of Trump rose by five points to 64 percent; Clinton’s unfavorable rating held steady at 53 percent.