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"I Started With A Million Dollar Loan." Taking Apart Trump's Taxes

President Donald Trump takes part in a roundtable discussion on tax reform at Bucky Dent Park in Hialeah, Florida on April 16, 2018.
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump takes part in a roundtable discussion on tax reform at Bucky Dent Park in Hialeah, Florida on April 16, 2018.

President Donald Trump tells this story about himself quite frequently. Maybe you’ve heard it.

“I started out in Brooklyn. My father gave me a very small loan of a million dollars. My father gave a very small loan in 1975. I got a very, very small loan from my father many years ago. I started with a million-dollar loan.”

That story is not true. The loan was over $60 million, at least, and much of it was never repaid. Earlier this month, The New York Times published a blockbuster investigation that showed Trump received $413 million dollars (in today’s money) from his father, Fred. The investigation also uncovered “instances of outright fraud,” among other “dubious” tax schemes.

The president declined many requests from media outlets to comment on the piece, which took over a year to report.

A lawyer for President Trump, Charles Harder, said “The New York Times’ allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100% false, and highly defamatory. There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”

Read Harder’s full statement here

The story dropped in the same week as Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which might be why it didn’t make a bigger splash. But critic Anne Helen Petersen, writing for BuzzFeed News, has another take on why this hasn’t seemed to stick to the president.

If anything, each revelation has done the opposite of what scandal should do: It didn’t revise your understanding of Trump, but reinforced what you already thought about him. If someone already loved him, they loved him more; if they already hated him, they hated him more. Which isn’t to say that these stories aren’t worth reporting or publishing, but they highlight just how strange and unprecedented their seeming lack of effect is. They don’t disassemble Trump’s image; they simply harden any existing reaction to it.

So, it’s not clear what impact the story will have. We’re talking with two reporters who broke the story. How did they get the scoop when the president has been famously reticent to release his tax returns? What are the potential consequences for Trump?

Produced by Amanda Williams. Text by Gabrielle Healy.

GUESTS

Susanne Craig, Investigative reporter, New York Times. @susannecraig

Russ Buettner, Investigative reporter, The New York Times.@russbuettner

For more, visit https://the1a.org.

© 2018 WAMU 88.5 – American University Radio.

Copyright 2018 WAMU 88.5

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