By James Burkett – Junior Editor
Last weekend, American news networks exploded with reports from the New York Times that President Donald Trump, in both the year he was elected to the Oval Office and in his first year, paid only $750 in tax returns.
The report’s source, which the New York Times refuses to credit by name, goes on to make claims regarding President Trump’s abuse of powers, alleging that his businesses reported significant stock falls, allowing him to pay less taxes. The damning report comes only 43 days before 2020’s Election Day, and only one day before the highly anticipated first presidential debate between Trump and the Democrat nominee Joe Biden.
President Trump’s response to the as-yet unsourced report has been quick and vocal. In his Sunday briefing, the President lambasted the report’s findings as “totally fake news.”
“Totally fake news, no. Actually I paid tax. And you’ll see that as soon as my tax returns – it’s under audit, they’ve been under audit for a long time. The [Internal Revenue Service] does not treat me well…they treat me very badly. You have people in the IRS – they treat me very badly.”
Insisting that he had in fact paid a lot, President Trump pledged to reveal his tax returns once they are ready to “come out but after the audit”, a unsurprising claim that he has consistently made since he was elected in 2016.
President Trump’s tax returns have been a controversial subject even before he was elected President. The last few days have led to many activists and social media users bringing up old videos from the 2016 presidential debates with former Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton, where the President instead claimed that he was “smart” to pay no taxes when accused of doing so by Clinton, who accused him of deliberately misleading the American people.
The report itself comes at a very crucial time for the two big parties. Among the Democrats, the report is Christmas coming early, and can only strengthen their narrative that the President has been bending the law for years. As they will undoubtedly argue, if he can do that…what other laws has he been bending, or even breaking? However, the question remains whether they’ll squander this opportunity to use it to convince as-yet undecided voters.
For the GOP, the report is another potentially damning case against their leader, and just another black mark on a leader already under scrutiny for his inadequate response to Covid and the Russian involvement accusations that have dogged him since his presidency began. Unsurprisingly, Republican representatives have remained almost unanimously silent over the report’s claims, choosing instead to let the President be a vocal critic against the report. Likewise, the report doesn’t seem to have made any overwhelming dent in support for the President among Republican voters, who like the Democrats have apparently formed themselves into a single group behind their candidate. Whether this lack of change will continue or have a significant impact on the President’s voting base is yet to be seen, but so far the report has done little to convert staunch Republicans.
One thing is for sure: this is only going to be the first in a long line of events to change the tone of this election, and not for the better.