Hillary Clinton pounced Monday on weekend revelations about Donald Trump’s tax returns, suggesting he used loopholes to avoid paying federal taxes “while leaving the rest of us with the bill” — as the Trump camp mulls its response to the publication of documents it claims were “illegally obtained.”
The Democratic presidential nominee attacked Trump after The New York Times published a story late Saturday that showed Trump reported a roughly $900 million “operating loss” on his 1995 federal returns and that stated he could have avoided paying taxes for 18 years, as a result.
“It doesn’t look like he paid a dime for nearly two decades,” Clinton said at a rally in Toledo. “Trump represents the same rigged system he claims he’s going to change.”
The Trump campaign has issued a statement arguing the returns were “illegally obtained” but has not publicly said it will file a lawsuit against the paper.
The Times reported that a Trump lawyer, though, earlier had threatened to take “legal action” if the newspaper published the records.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday morning urged the Republican nominee and real estate mogul to sue the newspaper “into oblivion.”
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Lewandowski, now a CNN political analyst, questioned The Times’ legal standing on the story, based on anonymously sent copies of the returns, arguing it being published was not a matter of national security.
“That’s a fact,” he said. “And The New York Times should be held accountable. If it comes out that these aren’t accurate, where’s the recourse?”
Trump’s campaign has not denied that the returns are his. Trump did not address the controversy Monday morning at a campaign stop in northern Virginia, instead mostly talking about cyber security to a group of ex-military members.
On Sunday, Trump surrogates New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Trump’s 1995 returns as legal and said they showed his business “genius.”
Trump argued over the weekend that he knows the country’s “complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president” — and can fix them.
Trump is not alone in having potentially used the tax system to reduce his tax burden. Though Trump’s “operating loss” was on a substantially larger scale, Clinton reported a roughly $700,000 long-term capital loss in 2015, according to copies of her IRS returns released in August.
The tax return controversy follows last week’s opening debate, after which Clinton has opened up a small polling lead, according to the latest Fox News survey.
Trump’s reported loss of nearly $1 billion was described as the result of Trump’s Atlantic City hotels suffering amid the resort’s declining casino-gambling industry, a failed airline venture and the purchase of the Plaza Hotel in upper Manhattan.
“What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year?” Clinton asked the crowd in Toledo on Monday.
While Trump’s reported loss is legal, the revelation that he might have used the U.S. tax code to not pay taxes for nearly two decades has renewed calls for him to releases his returns, as Clinton has done.
Clinton, who until Monday had not publicly commented on the Times story, also called for a law that would require future nominees to releases their taxes as a requirement for a White House run.
“The story tells us everything we need to know,” Clinton said Monday. “Trump was taking from America with both hands and leaving the rest of us with the bill.”