Donald Trump’s allies have said he is a “genius” if a New York Times report is true that he paid no federal income taxes for 18 years.
The New York Times said it had received some of Donald Trump’s 1995 tax documents revealing $915m losses that allowed him to legally avoid paying taxes.
Donald Trump’s camp refused to confirm or deny the report, but said the filing was “illegally obtained”.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s campaign called the report a “bombshell”.
Donald Trump’s surrogates took to the airwaves on October 2 to defend him.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said the New York Times article was a “very good story” because it showcased the “genius” of Donald Trump.
Chris Christie told Fox News Sunday the report would only underline that Donald Trump is best qualified to ease tax policy on working people.
Former New York Rudy Giuliani, a close adviser to Donald Trump, also said the Republican candidate was an “absolute genius” if he avoided federal income taxes.
“A lot of the people that are poor take advantage of loopholes and pay no taxes,” Rudy Giuliani told NBC’s Meet the Press on October 2.
“Those are loopholes also.”
Donald Trump himself played down the report tweeting: “I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for president and am the only one who can fix them. #failing@nytimes.”
During the first presidential debate on September 26, Hillary Clinton attacked Donald Trump for not releasing his tax returns, as all previous White House candidates have done since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Hillary Clinton suggested he was hiding “something terrible” and that he had perhaps not paid any federal income tax. Donald Trump replied: “That makes me smart.”
In its article, the New York Times said three pages of documents were anonymously sent last month to one of its reporters who had written about Donald Trump’s finances.
A former accountant for Donald Trump, Jack Mitnick, whose name appears as Trump’s tax preparer of the filings, said the documents appeared to be authentic copies of portions of the 1995 returns, according to the New York Times.
Donald Trump’s campaign did not directly address the authenticity of the excerpts, but the New York Times said a Trump lawyer had emailed the newspaper arguing that publication of the records was illegal.
His camp accused the publication, which has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, of being “an extension of the Clinton campaign”.
Donald Trump, the campaign added, was a “highly skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required.
“That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions.”
Hillary Clinton’s camp said Donald Trump embodied the “rigged system” of an unfair US tax code.
Her campaign manager Robby Mook said in a statement: “This bombshell report reveals the colossal nature of Donald Trump’s past business failures and just how long he may have avoided paying any federal income taxes whatsoever.”
Hillary Clinton has already disclosed nearly 40 years of federal income tax returns, while Donald Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, has made publicly available 10 years of his tax returns.
At an October 1rally, Donald Trump appeared to accuse Hillary Clinton of marital infidelity.
“Hillary Clinton’s only loyalty is to her financial contributors and to herself,” the Republican told thousands gathered in Manheim, Pennsylvania.
“I don’t think she’s even loyal to Bill if you want to know the truth. Why should she be, right?”
Meanwhile, Alec Baldwin has debuted his impression of Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live, parodying the candidate’s pronunciation of China, among other things.
Sporting a blonde wig and a lip-puckering scowl, Alec Baldwin appeared on the comedy show alongside SNL regular Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, using a walking cane.