A bombshell New York Times report that suggested Donald Trump may have avoided paying federal income taxes for 18 years was a positive for the candidate, one that exhibited his “genius” and underscored his policy acumen, Trump’s top surrogate said Sunday.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Chris Christie was given the unenviable task of being the first to respond to the Saturday night story that revealed, for the first time, pages of Trump’s tax returns (specifically those from 1995). And the New Jersey governor put a remarkably sunny spin on the entire issue.
“This is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump,” he declared at one point.
One might ask how a piece could reflect well on Trump when it showed he lost $916 million in one year and may have used that loss to avoid federal income taxes for much of the next two decades. Well, Christie had some answers.
“What it shows is what an absolute mess the federal tax code is and that’s why Donald Trump is the best person to fix it. There is no one who has shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code,” he began. “The early 1990s was a difficult time for lots of folks. ... Donald Trump wrote the book the Art of the Comeback ... He fought and clawed back to build another fortune.”
Christie rightfully noted that The New York Times didn’t actually show that Trump did not pay federal income taxes, but just reported that he had the opportunity to do so. Nor, he added, was there anything in the piece that suggested Trump operated outside of the law. And because of that, Christie made the case that an item widely viewed as a huge liability for a Republican nominee who likes to brag about his wealth and complain about his tax burden was actually a reflection of his brilliance.
“The genius of Donald Trump is to make sure he follows the law ... and politically he has said he is going to change these laws,” Christie said. He added that Trump should only be “taking a bow for the fact that he has said, well before this story came out, that we need to change the tax laws because they are harming the American people every day.”
Genius, apparently, was the main adjective that the Trump campaign was using in its talking points to handle the story. Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the same descriptor when talking about the candidate.
“My response is, he’s a genius. ... Absolute genius,” Giuliani said. “This is a perfectly legal application of the tax code and he would have been a fool not to take advantage of it. Not only that, he would have probably breached his fiduciary duty to investors, to his business. You have an obligation when you run a business to maximize the profits, and if there is a tax law that says I can deduct this, you deduct it. If you fail to deduct it, your investors can sue you.”
“Don’t you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is lot better for the United States than a woman and the only thing she’s ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails?” he added.
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