The White House has responded to a bombshell New York Times report that used more than 100,000 pages of documents as well as interviews to conclude that President Donald Trump’s father, Fred, had transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to Trump over the years and skirted tax payments.
And the White House’s response does not specifically counter the destruction of Trump’s origin story.
On the campaign trail in 2015, Trump portrayed himself as a self-made billionaire with a knack for the real-estate market.
“It has not been easy for me,” Trump once said. “I started off in Brooklyn. My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars. I came into Manhattan, and I had to pay him back, and I had to pay him back with interest. But I came into Manhattan and I started buying properties, and I did great.”
The Times, however, reported on a “trove of confidential tax returns and financial records” showing that Trump accumulated at least $413 million in today’s dollars, much of it through what The Times called “tax dodges,” from his father beginning when Trump was a child.
From The Times:
“The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, 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% tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.
“The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5%, tax records show.”
But the White House, instead of outright denying that Trump received hundreds of millions of dollars from his father, seemed to confirm the transactions.
Though the White House called the article a “misleading attack against the Trump family by the failing New York Times,” it took the existence of the transactions reported by the paper for granted. “Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions,” a White House statement said.
While it was unclear which transactions described in the 14,000-word article the White House was talking about, the statement addresses the family’s financial history only in that one brief sentence.
The settling of the Trump parents’ estates certainly didn’t happen “many decades ago.” Robert Trump, the president’s brother, told The Times: “All appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid. Our father’s estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities, and our mother’s estate was closed in 2004.”
The rest of the White House statement slams The Times and the media at large for not casting Trump’s accomplishments in office in a positive light. The White House dedicates fully three quarters of its statement to trashing The Times, perhaps implying that the documents reviewed by The Times reflect reality.
The statement does little to dispute that Trump had exaggerated his personal wealth or success on the campaign trail.
Here’s the White House’s full statement:
“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. Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions. The New York 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.”