The White House said Tuesday night that the New York Times should apologize for a “misleading” report accusing President Trump and his family business of decades-old tax fraud schemes.
“Fred Trump has been gone for nearly twenty years and it’s sad to witness this misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the president’s father. “Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions.”
The Times reported in a lengthy investigative piece that Mr. Trump, despite oft-repeated claims that he is a self-made man, received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from the real-estate empire of his father, Fred Trump. The 14,000-word report says much of this money “came to Mr. Trump through dubious tax schemes he participated in during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud.”
“In all, the president’s parents transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate on gifts and inheritances that was in place at the time. Helped by a variety of tax dodges, the Trumps paid $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax returns show,” The Times reported.
Mrs. Sanders said the Times’ and other media outlets’ credibility with the American people ” is at an all time low because they are consumed with attacking the president and his family 24/7 instead of reporting the news.”
“The truth is the market is at an all-time high, unemployment is at a fifty year low, taxes for families and businesses have been cut, wages are up, farmers and workers are empowered from better trade deals, and America’s military is stronger than ever, yet the New York Times can rarely find anything positive about the President and his tremendous record of success to report. Perhaps another apology from the New York Times, like the one they had to issue after they got the 2016 election so embarrassingly wrong, is in order,” she said.
Mr. Trump’s lawyer refuted the allegations published Tuesday.
“There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone,” lawyer Charles J. Harder said in a statement to the newspaper. “The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”
The article said the president declined requests for comment.
Mr. Harder told the newspaper, “President Trump had virtually no involvement whatsoever with these matters. The affairs were handled by other Trump family members who were not experts themselves and therefore relied entirely upon the aforementioned licensed professionals to ensure full compliance with the law.”
At a convention of electrical contractors in Philadelphia Tuesday, the president spoke about the benefits of the GOP tax cuts, including ending the estate tax for small business owners.
“From now on, small business owners will be spared from the deeply unfair estate tax, also known as the death tax,” the president said.
To laughter, the president joked, “Now if you don’t love your kids, it doesn’t help you. If your kids don’t treat you good, don’t leave it to them. Give it to somebody else. But if you love your kids, which probably 82 percent of you do .. you can now leave your small business or your beautiful little farm, or whatever it is that you’re so proud of, and you leave it to your kids, and they don’t have to go out to the bank and borrow to pay the tax and end up losing it in a foreclosure. It’s such a big thing.”
The president also touted a new provision allowing businesses to deduct capital expenses fully in the same year they’re taken.
“Investments are soaring because you can now immediately deduct every penny spent on new equipment,” Mr. Trump said. “Nobody thought that was ever going to happen. In fact, I should leave and go back into business maybe. If you would have told me that when I was a private businessman, maybe I wouldn’t have run for president.”