- Democrats took control of both Virginia’s state house and senate on Tuesday. With the party already holding the governor’s seat, this puts issues like minimum wage and gun control in the spotlight.
- Democrats also saw a major win in Kentucky, taking the governor’s seat in a tight race with Andy Beshear beating incumbent Matt Bevin by less than a percent.
- But Republicans did still snag a big win in Mississippi, with Republican Tate Reeves taking the governor seat. Experts say his win now makes the expansion of Medicaid unlikely in the state.
Virginia Goes Blue
Tuesday’s election led to a series of sweeping victories and flips for Democrats, as well as races where Republicans were able to hold onto their ground.
In Virginia, Democrats took majority control of both the state’s house and senate which were formerly controlled by Republicans. The party how as 55-45 majority in the house, and a 21-19 majority in the senate. With their Governor Ralph Northam also a member of the Democratic party, for the first time in over two decades, the party is in control of this trifecta of their government.
This could lead to major policy changes throughout the state that the GOP has long been rejecting. Over the summer, Northam announced plans for new gun control policies after a shooting in Virginia Beach left 12 dead. Republican lawmakers had no interest in the legislation, but now with Democrats in charge, it could see new life.
State Democrats have also been fighting for a $15 minimum wage. Currently, Virginia follows the federally mandated wage of $7.25, so this would more than double the pay rate. In January, the state’s Senate voted against this increase, but a new door could open for it in the future.
Other topics that could also now be visited include the Equal Rights Act, healthcare, and redistricting.
Another notable blue moment for Virginia was Juli Briskman’s win. Briskman was a former government contractor who went viral in 2017 over a photo where she can be seen flipping off Trump’s motorcade while biking.
She ended up losing her job over the matter, but Tuesday won a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors. According to the Associated Press, she beat the Republican incumbent with a lead of 52%.
Kentucky’s Governor Race
Another race getting national attention was the gubernatorial race in Kentucky. The state’s Democratic Attorney General, Andy Beshear challenged and defeated the incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin in a tight race. With 100% of precincts in, Beshear led with 49.2% while Bevin took home 48.8%. Just over 5,000 votes split the difference. Beshear claimed the victory, while Bevin has refused to concede.
The race between the two was always tight. One mid-October poll showed the two neck and neck, each with 46% of the vote. Just around a week after that poll, a new one gave Beshear the advantage of leading at 52-55%. Just days before the election, a separate poll gave Bevin a five-point lead. So, with tight fluctuating numbers, the results of this race were highly anticipated.
In a Wednesday morning press conference, Beshear said it was time to go ahead with the transition.
“Last night, the election ended,” he said. “It ended and it’s time to move forward with a smooth transition that we are here to do so that we can do the people’s business.”
President Donald Trump was very vocal about supporting Bevin and held a rally in Kentucky on Monday night. He implied that this election would be interpreted as a reflection of himself.
“And if you lose, they’re going to say, ‘Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This was the greatest.’ You can’t let that happen to me,” he told the crowd.
When the results rolled in, Trump largely downplayed the loss to focus on other Republican victories in the state. He references a poll that indicated a 15 point lead, however, polling experts like FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver have since indicated it was unreliable.
Trump also said that his rally helped the Republican party in the state and said this election boded well for Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Republican Win in Mississippi
Over in Missippi, the closely watched gubernatorial race went to Republicans. Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, who had also been backed by Trump, beat the state’s Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.
While Mississippi is usually a reliably red state, Hood was considered a more moderate candidate and has been the Attorney General since 2004, winning four elections to do so.
Trump congratulated Reeves on Twitter, also noting a recent rally.
As for what this means for the state of Mississippi, one of the most notable topics on the campaign was Medicaid, which Reeves is a vocal opponent of. So, this means the program is now unlikely to expand in Mississippi.
See what others are saying: (FiveThirtyEight) (Fox News) (Associated Press)
Cambridge Analytica Passed Voter Suppression Information Over to the 2016 Trump Campaign, New Report Claims
- A new report claims Donald Trump’s campaign disproportionately targeted Black voters in the 2016 presidential election in an attempt to dissuade them from voting.
- According to Channel 4, Cambridge Analytica compiled that information and passed it to the Trump campaign as part of a “Deterrence” category.
- While this practice is legal, through the use of Facebook ads, it also potentially targeted 3.5 million Black voters in many states that were ultimately decided in tight races.
- Trump’s re-election campaign has denied these reports, but according to Channel 4, the 2016 campaign’s chief scientist explicitly said the “Deterrence” category contained people that the campaign “hope don’t show up to vote.”
Cambridge Analytica Database
A new report claims Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign received and used data that disproportionately targeted Black voters in an attempt to discourage them from voting in the last presidential election.
The report, published by U.K. outlet Channel 4 News, alleges that the Trump campaign received a database on 200 million American voters from the now-defunct firm Cambridge Analytica. That firm attracted international scrutiny after it was found to have harvested millions of Facebook users’ personal data without their consent.
In 2016, the Trump Campaign pumped $5.9 million into Cambridge Analytica.
As The Washington Post puts it, this database “could add detail to allegations about Cambridge Analytica’s role in the campaign, particularly in efforts to harness Facebook’s powerful ad technologies to dissuade Black voters from supporting Hillary Clinton.”
According to Channel 4, which claims to have obtained the database made by Cambridge Analytica, the list of voters covers 16 key battleground states. Among those states, voters were then separated into eight different categories.
For example, likely Democratic voters were listed as either “Core Clinton,” “Disengaged Clinton,” or “Deterrence.” Channel 4 quoted the chief data scientist of Trump’s 2016 campaign as explicitly saying the “Deterrence” category contained people that the campaign “hope don’t show up to vote.”
Notably, more than half the people listed in that category were either Black, Asian, or Latino.
On top of that, while Black voters only make up about 5.4% of the voting population in Wisconsin, the database marked 17% of Black voters in the state for “Deterrence.”
Likewise, in Michigan, Black voters accounted for 15% of the voting population in 2016; however, the database marked 33% of Black voters in the state for “Deterrence.”
Both races were extremely tight. In fact, Trump won Michigan by just 11,000 votes. At the same time, Black voter turnout in the state dropped by more than 12%.
Ties to the Trump Campaign
Channel 4 has not revealed how it obtained this database, but it does claim that Cambridge Analytica worked “hand in glove with a team from the Republican National Committee.”
Following the report, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for Trump’s reelection campaign, dismissed it as “fake news,” saying that Trump’s record gave him a “relationship of trust with African American voters.”
Paris Dennard, the RNC’s senior communications adviser for Black media affairs, affirmed that the data obtained by Channel 4 “is not our data.”
Matt Braynard, the Trump data director for the 2016 campaign, said his team didn’t use those categorizations. Instead, he said they relied on material from the party and another firm, L2 political.
“Deterrence doesn’t mean suppression and it doesn’t mean deterrence from voting,” Braynard specified. “It just means deterrence from voting for Hillary Clinton.”
Many of the testimonies seem to conflict with one another. While Murtaugh has claimed the story is “fake news,” Braynard has seemingly admitted that this data is at least real. In addition to that, Braynard said the category wasn’t meant to be a full deterrence from voting, but Channel 4’s quote from the Trump data scientist indicates the direct opposite.
According to The Washington Post, Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica’s former director of business development, said Channel 4’s report is consistent with “her understanding of how Cambridge Analytica and Republicans targeted Black voters in 2016.”
Kaiser then provided The Post with an internal company document from 2016 which described a similar classification strategy for Democrats, including a category labelled “Deterrent.”
Was This Legal?
The tactics described in the Channel 4 report are legal.
David Carroll, a professor at the Parsons School of Design in New York, called the database “a diabolically effective campaign tactic,” but added in a statement to The Post, “They’re just using free speech, even if it is misleading.”
Despite the tactic by Cambridge Analytica being legal, Channel 4 criticized Facebook for its role in airing ads potentially aimed at dissuading voters. Of particular note, during the 2016 Election, Facebook also employed “dark posts,” or ads that vanish from feeds after a campaign stops paying for them.
Those ads make it difficult to go back and track how campaigns targeted specific groups, and that has become a major point of contention because the Trump Campaign pumped $44 million in such types of ads in 2016.
Channel 4 was also critical of Facebook because it was seemingly the original source of information used to help create this database; however, Facebook has maintained that its information was improperly obtained and that Cambridge Analytica was in violation of its policies.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (Forbes) (USA Today)
Trump Nominates Amy Coney Barrett for SCOTUS. Here’s What You Need to Know
- President Donald Trump announced Saturday that he is nominating Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.
- If confirmed, Barrett would likely signal a decades-long conservative shift.
- Many have now scrutinized her previous writings and opinions on cases involving abortion, Obamacare, LGBTQ+ rights, and more.
- Some have also questioned if her Catholic faith will play a role in her interpretation of the Constitution, which she has denied.
- Other’s still have commended Trump for the selection and condemned criticisms of Barrett as attacks on freedom of religion.
Who is Amy Coney Barrett?
After weeks of swirling rumors, President Donald Trump officially announced on Saturday that he had selected Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Barrett is a federal judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, a role she has held since she was appointed by Trump in 2017 after working as a law professor at Notre Dame for several years.
She was on the shortlist to be a Supreme Court Justice nominee back in 2018 for the seat that was eventually filled by Brett Kavanaugh. If appointed this time around, she will become the youngest member of the court at 48-years-old.
That is notable because Supreme Court seats are lifetime appointments, and Trump’s two other appointees — Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch — are both in their 50s, meaning that all three Trump-appointed justices could potentially serve for decades. Her appointment would firmly lead to a more conservative court, which would have a six-person majority.
Barrett’s confirmation to the court would also mean that six of the nine justices are Catholic, a fact that is significant because Barrett has received a good deal of scrutiny over public comments she has made about Catholicism and the law in the past.
During her confirmation hearing to be a federal judge in 2017, many Democrats worried her religious beliefs would cloud her judgments. However, when pressed on the topic, Barrett swore that would not be the case.
“If you’re asking whether I take my faith seriously and I’m a faithful Catholic, I am,” she told Senators at the time. “Although I would stress that my personal church affiliation or my religious belief would not bear in the discharge of my duties as a judge.”
That response did not dissuade all senators, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.).
“I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein told Barrett. “And that’s of concern.”
Those remarks, which now compose a viral clip, resulted in Feinstein and other Democrats receiving criticism for attacking Barretts faith and being biased, thus propelling her to be a major rallying flag for the religious right.
Now, with her nomination to the Supreme Court, both the concerns regarding her religion are resurfacing, as are the refrands that those concerns are simply anti-religious attacks. During the formal announcement of her nomination, both President Trump and Barrett herself addressed those concerns.
“She is a woman of unparalleled achievement, towering intellect, sterling credentials, and unyielding loyalty to the Constitution,” Trump said. “Amy Coney Barrett will decide cases based on the text of the Constitution as written.”
“No matter the issue, no matter the case before her, I am supremely confident that Judge Barrett will issue rulings based solely upon a fair reading of the law.”
Barrett, for her part, also echoed those remarks, addressing her “fellow Americans,” to tell them that Trump “nominated me to serve on the United States Supreme Court, and that institution belongs to all of us.”
“If confirmed, I would not assume that role for the sake of those in my own circle, and certainly not for my own sake,” she continued. “I would assume this role to serve you.”
Barrett also further emphasized that point while describing her personal judicial philosophy, which she said was the same as former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who she clerked for and described as her mentor.
“His judicial philosophy is mine too: A judge must apply the law as written,” she said. “Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
Whether or not Barrett would follow closely in Scalia’s footsteps is important to an ongoing debate that has popped up with the news of her nomination. On one side, many people and media outlets say that while Barrett will certainly shift the court, she is ideologically in-line with the other conservative judges.
But on the other side, plenty of others — specifically on social media — have said that her past decisions, public statements, and publications show she is an extremist and a religious fundamentalist.
Here’s a deeper look at Barrett’s record, where she stands on key issues, and how that could affect future Supreme Court decisions.
Let’s start with what Barrett’s nomination means for abortion rights because that has easily been the most talked-about and is likely to be a major focus at her confirmation hearings and throughout the nomination process.
Barrett has been quite public about her personal opposition to abortion in both academic and judicial writings. She has explicitly said that abortion is “always immoral,” and her nomination has been widely supported by anti-abortion groups.
Aside from personal views, in her role as a federal judge, she has overseen three cases regarding laws restricting abortions in her home state of Indiana. In all three cases, she expressed concerns over earlier rulings that had ended those restrictions, and twice she joined dissenting opinions that would have struck down lower court rulings and upheld abortion restrictions.
However, both her personal beliefs and past rulings don’t necessarily mean she would strike down Roe v. Wade. While Trump has vowed to appoint justices ready to overrule the 1973 decision that established the Constitution recognizes a right to abortion, Barrett has not yet said publicly how she would rule on abortion if confirmed to the Supreme Court.
This is where things get a little messy. Barrett has in the past called Roe an “erroneous decision” and claimed it “ignited a national controversy” by deciding the issue via the Supreme Court rather than leaving it up to the states.
At the same time, she has also repeatedly said she does not think SCOTUS would overturn the ruling.
“I don’t think the core case, Roe’s core holding that women have a right to an abortion, I don’t think that would change,” she stated speaking at an appearance in 2016. “But I think the question of whether people can get very late-term abortions, you know, how many restrictions can be put on clinics, I think that will change.”
That last point is important because while many experts believe it is unlikely that SCOTUS will wholesale overturn Roe anytime soon, what is likely is that the court will make decisions on cases that will slowly chip away at the ruling instead.
However, others have said with the appointment of another conservative to replace Ginsburg, the conservative justices could have enough votes to go after abortion directly. If that were to be the case, it is unclear how Barrett would proceed here as well.
A fact that is significant because Barrett has also published controversial views regarding the judicial principle that justices should respect the past court precedents, and made it clear that she would be open to reversing a Supreme Court precedent if she believed it went against the Constitution.
Affordable Care Act
The second highly talked-about effect Barrett could have on the court is in regards to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — or Obamacare. Her views here are exceptionally important because a week after Election Day, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the latest challenge to the ACA.
Barrett, for her part, has publicly criticized the Supreme Court decision that upheld Obamacare as constitutional repeatedly. In a 2017 article she wrote, she quoted her mentor Scalia’s dissension with the law by saying it should be called “SCOUTScare.”
In the article, Barrett argued for an originalist reading of the Constitution — interpreting the Constitution how it was originally written and with the same understanding the authors had when they wrote it. Under that view, she argued, the Supreme Court would not allow for Obamacare.
She also criticized Chief Justice Roberts’ stance on Obamacare, and said that he considered too many factors outside of the Constitution when considering Obamacare’s constitutionality. Her originalist interpretation of the Constitution lends fuel to Democrats claims that she could upend the Affordable Care Act.
Adding to concerns is her stance about Obamacare forcing employers to offer birth control, regardless of their religious preferences. In 2012, she allegedly signed a petition against this provision and is quoted by Newsweek as saying at the time: “This is a grave violation of religious freedom and cannot stand.”
Other Important Rulings and Remarks
Abortion and the ACA are the two biggest talking points when it comes to Barrett, but those who believe she is an extremist have also noted her record on other hot button issues in the country.
For example, many have pointed to her stance on LGBTQ+ rights. According to reports, in 2015, Barrett signed a letter addressed to Catholic bishops that detailed her personal beliefs. It also included a statement about “marriage and family founded on the indissoluble commitment of a man and a woman.”
Regarding marriage, some also cited a lecture she gave in 2016 where she defended Supreme Court justices who argued against making gay marriage legal. In a separate speech, she argued that Title IX does not apply to transgender individuals.
A lot of people also pointed to other controversial decisions she has made in her three years as a federal judge, like how she refused to rehear a racial segregation case in 2017, as well as a ruling she made in 2019 that made it easier for men accused of sexual assaults on college campuses to challenge the proceedings against them.
Some also condemned her stance on immigration. In one case, she oversaw, Barrett argued that the U.S. has a right to block people it deems likely to become dependent on public assistance — even if they’ve never used it in the past.
She has also repeatedly refused to review cases brought by immigrants who claim they’ve been wrongfully denied humanitarian protections or other immigration benefits.
Of course, on the other side, Republicans have widely applauded Barrett’s nomination, including from key leaders, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Trump “could not have made a better decision.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham — who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is in charge of the nomination process — also called her an “outstanding” pick.
As for what happens next, Barrett will meet with Senators for the next two weeks — a timeline that Graham cut significantly short. Normally lawmakers are given around six weeks to meet with and vet a SCOTUS nominee, but Republicans have argued that the quick turnaround is okay because Barrett was already vetted by the Senate in 2017 for a Supreme Court seat.
After meeting with Senators, Graham has scheduled four consecutive days of confirmation hearings starting Oct. 12, with a full committee vote set for Oct. 22. Graham’s intentions here are clear: he hopes to have a full floor vote before the election.
Notably, McConnell has not yet committed to a pre-election vote, but regardless, right now, it seems almost certain he will have enough votes. Only two Republicans — Senators Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) — have said they oppose filling the seat before the election.
However, even without them, the Republicans still have a clear path to a 51-47 majority vote. Still, even with the vote all but locked, everyone expects her confirmation process to be a deeply divisive, partisan battle.
This is by far the closest a confirmation fight has played out to an election in American history, and many Democrats have repeatedly condemned Republicans for trying to push through a nominee so fast — especially when Trump has said he expects the election results to end up in the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, as well as anyone who opposes Barrett’s nomination, there is really not much they can do. Regardless of what happens, this firmly places the nomination as a central issue in the election — and not just for Trump, but for the Senators too.
Trump and Republicans are hoping that the prospect of conservatives holding a 6-3 majority will energize conservative voters ahead of the election, but that could also go the other way: Republican’s trying to jam through a nomination could mobilize more liberal voters too.
Several recent polls have shown that a majority of voters want whoever wins in November to choose the SCOTUS nominee, so it is possible that moving too fast could backfire.
“For many Republican senators up for re-election this year, the ideal situation might be to begin the confirmation process quickly, injecting it into the political bloodstream and energizing conservative voters, but waiting until after Election Day — when vulnerable incumbents no longer have to worry about being cast out by angry independent and liberal voters — to hold a confirmation vote,” The New York Times explained.
There are several key, incredibly close, Senate races happening in November, and political analysts say that control of the chamber is up for grabs. At the same time, even if Republicans lose the Senate, they could still approve Barrett in the time after the election and before the new session in January.
See what others are saying: (Politico) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)
Key Takeaways and Reaction to the NYT Report on Trump’s Tax Returns
- A bombshell report from The New York Times detailed 18 years’ worth of information regarding President Donald Trump’s federal income taxes.
- In both 2016 and 2017, Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes each year, according to the report.
- Among other claims, it also alleges that for 11 of the years between 2000 and 2018, Trump paid no federal income taxes because he reported losing more money than he made at many of his signature businesses.
- Trump has since dismissed the report as “fake news,” arguing, “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.”
NYT Releases Data from Trump Tax Returns
The New York Times published a bombshell report on Sunday, which outlines decades of information relating to President Donald Trump’s federal income taxes.
Trump’s tax records have been fiercely sought after for years, dating back to when he refused to release them as a presidential candidate in 2016.
According to The Times, which claims to have obtained Trump’s tax records dating from 2000 to 2018, Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016. The next year, his first in office, he paid another $750 in federal taxes.
Even more significantly, in 11 of those 18 years, The Times alleges that Trump paid no federal income taxes at all.
As for how he was able to do that, it was largely because he reported losing much more money than he made at many of his signature businesses.
For example, The Times reported that Trump made $427 million from “The Apprentice,” as well as licensing and endorsements deals associated with his name. Trump then invested much of that money in a collection of businesses, mainly golf courses that steadily became money holes.
In fact, since 2000, Trump has reported losses of more than $315 million at his golf courses, losses of $55 million between 2016 and 2018 at his D.C. hotel, and losses of $134 million at Trump Corporation since 2000.
“The tax returns that Mr. Trump has long fought to keep private tell a story fundamentally different from the one he has sold to the American public,” The Times reports. “His reports to the I.R.S. portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes.
“Now, with his financial challenges mounting, the records show that he depends more and more on making money from businesses that put him in potential and often direct conflict of interest with his job as president.”
“Consulting Fees” Paid to Ivanka Trump
The Times reported that the filings showed a laundry list of business expense write-offs, including more than $70,000 paid to style Trump’s hair during “The Apprentice.”
Notably, Trump entities also wrote off at least $95,000 that was paid out to a hair and makeup artist of his daughter, Ivanka Trump. The media outlet added that Mr. Trump wrote off expenses like meals and fuel associated with the aircraft he used “to shuttle him among his various homes and properties.”
Among other claims, between 2010 and 2018, Trump wrote off around $26 million in unexplained “consulting fees” as business expenses.
While The Times notes that there’s no evidence Trump engaged in bribes or kickbacks to middlemen, it also notes that Trump may have reduced the amount of his income that could be taxed by treating a family member as a consultant.
The Times believes that that family member was Ivanka. That’s because in 2017, Ivanka reported receiving nearly $750,000 from a consulting company she co-owned — the exact amount the Trump Organization also claimed as tax deductions for hotel projects in Vancouver and Hawaii.
The big kicker is that Ivanka is also an executive officer of the Trump companies that led those projects — “Meaning she appears to have been treated as a consultant on the same hotel deals that she helped manage as part of her job at her father’s business.”
The Times added that if the payments to Ivanka were compensation for work, it’s unclear why Trump would do it in this form “other than to reduce his own tax liability.”
The “consulting fees” also raise another possibility: that this could have been a method for Trump to transfer assets to his children while avoiding a gift tax.
There, The Times points back to a 2018 Times investigation which discovered that Trump’s father had “employed a number of legally dubious schemes decades ago to evade gift taxes on millions of dollars he transferred to his children.”
The Times also pointed to a situation where a person directly involved in developing two Trump Towers in Istanbul said that there was never any consultant or other third party in Turkey paid by the Trump Organization. That’s despite The Times’ finding that Trump’s records “show regular deductions for consulting fees over seven years totaling $2 million.”
Trump’s Foreign Investments
The Times reported that they were “able to take the fullest measure to date of the president’s income from overseas, where he holds ultimate sway over American diplomacy.”
The outlet goes on to note that Trump said he wouldn’t pursue new foreign business deals when he took office in 2017, but during his first two years in office, his revenue from abroad was $73 million.
While much of that money was from his golf properties in Scotland and Ireland, some came from licensing deals in countries with authoritarian-leaning leaders or thorny geopolitics — for example, $3 million from the Philippines, $2.3 million from India and $1 million from Turkey,” the outlet reported.
Notably, The Times explicitly stated that the documents it obtained did not “reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.”
How Much Trump Owes
According to The Times, Trump is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of that due within the next four years.
“Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president,” the outlet reported.
On top of that, Trump reportedly has $100 million due in 2022 for a mortgage on the commercial space in the New York Trump Tower. Up to 2018, he had only paid interest on the loan but not the loan itself.
To round it off, confidential records show that starting in 2010, Trump “claimed, and received, an income tax refund totaling $72.9 million.” That’s the sum total of all the federal income tax he had paid for 2005 through 2008, plus interest.
That refund is actually already the subject of a long-standing and widely-known IRS audit, but if Trump is ultimately forced to pay back this refund, he’ll also be forced to return that money with interest and possible penalties. That could ultimately cost him $100 million.
Trump Responds to Bombshell Report
Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, told The Times that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested to see documents in question.
The Times reported that when they declined his request in order to protect their sources, Garten “took direct issue only with the amount of taxes Mr. Trump had paid.”
“Over the past decade, President Trump has paid tens of millions of dollars in personal taxes to the federal government, including paying millions in personal taxes since announcing his candidacy in 2015,” Garten said.
In response to that statement, The Times noted that Garten seemed to conflate “personal taxes” with other federal taxes Trump paid for his household employees. It added that Garten claimed Trump paid some of what he owed with tax credits, but it argued that was a mischaracterization of how those credits work.
As for Trump himself, in response to a reporter at a press conference, Trump dismissed the report as “fake news.”
“No,” Trump said on Sunday. “Actually, I paid tax. But — and you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns — it’s under audit. They’ve been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well.”
“But they’re under audit. And when they’re not, I would be proud to show you. But that’s just fake news.”
When asked if he could give people an idea of how much he was actually paying, he said, “Yeah, basically — well, first of all, I’ve paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes, too. The New York State charges a lot, and I paid a lot of money in state.”
On Twitter Monday morning, Trump again called the report fake news and added, “I paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.”
“Also, if you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets.”
He then said he may release those financial statements, which he called “very IMPRESSIVE.”
Critics of the President
Soon after The Times article, Joe Biden’s campaign tweeted an ad that showed how much tax American workers like teachers and firefighters pay compared to the $750 Trump allegedly paid.
It is “the latest reminder how clear the choice is here in this race between Park Avenue and Scranton,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said. “You have in Donald Trump, a President who spends his time thinking about how he can work his way out of paying taxes, of meeting the obligation that every other working person in this country meets every year.”
Many others, including celebrities and politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), echoed that point.
“Trump’s tax returns tell us that he’s either a very bad businessman or a tax cheat—likely both,” Sanders tweeted. “But more importantly, it shows how the wealthy, unlike most Americans, are able to avoid paying taxes.”
Others also argued that Trump’s debts made him a threat to national security, with a Bloomberg columnist writing in a heavily circulated opinion piece: “Due to his indebtedness, his reliance on income from overseas and his refusal to authentically distance himself from his hodgepodge of business, Trump represents a profound national security threat – a threat that will only escalate if he’s re-elected.”
Defense of the President
Others, particularly supporters of the president, condemned The Times for reporting the story, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).
“Well, I don’t know how accurate the story is. The New York Times didn’t release any of the underlying documents,” the senator said in an interview with The View.
“Apparently somebody illegally gave them a copy of something, some tax return documents. I don’t think it’s an issue that frankly impacts a whole lot of Americans.”
“But the point is I don’t know if it’s accurate or not. I don’t think it’s an issue that frankly impacts a whole lot of Americans.”
Conservative commentator Candace Owens also reiterated that point on Twitter.
“It’s time for our Department of Justice to begin looking into the New York Times,” she wrote. “I don’t care what you think of Trump— if government officials are turning over an individual’s federal documents in an effort to sway an election—it is a federal crime of epic proportions.”
Others claim the story was intentionally dropped two days before the first debate between Trump and Biden, which is set for Tuesday.