The White House pushed back against an exhaustive investigation published by The New York Times on Tuesday that alleged Donald Trump perpetrated various tax schemes and fraud during the 1990s to bolster the inheritance he received from his parents, calling the report a “misleading attack” on the president’s family.
“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, referring to Trump’s late father — a powerful New York real estate developer and housing magnate.
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“Many decades ago the IRS reviewed and signed off on these transactions,” Sanders said. “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 president’s spokeswoman went on to flaunt various economic accomplishments that she said Trump had realized in his administration, remarking that The Times “can rarely find anything positive about the President and his tremendous record of success to report.”
Sanders added: “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.”
The Times investigation — based on thousands of documents the newspaper had obtained, including more than 200 tax returns filed by Fred Trump — says that Donald Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father, and that Trump and his siblings helped their parents dodge taxes by setting up a “sham corporation,” taking improper tax deductions, undervaluing their real estate holdings and other dubious measures.
The president has repeatedly called himself a self-made billionaire who borrowed only $1 million from his father and paid it back “with interest.”
Democrats seized on the Times report, using it to attack Republican economic policies and to renew their calls for the release of the Trump‘s tax returns.
Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, accused Trump of “rampant fraud” and said Republican policies continued to abet such activities.
“This story about the Trump family’s tax cheating is a perfect illustration of how the fortunate few heap a heavier burden onto middle-class Americans,” Wyden wrote on Twitter.
The Times’ report also reignited Democratic efforts to have the president’s tax returns released.
“We must see Trump’s tax returns to know just how far and how deep the crimes go,” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), who has persistently tried to get the Ways and Means Committee and the full House to obtain Trump’s returns, said in a statement. “This Trump exposé paints a portrait of a man whose entire professional life was built on his father’s money, skirting accountability, and ‘outright fraud.’”
Trump has refused to release any of his returns, breaking with decades of precedent by presidential candidates, claiming he’s been under audit by the IRS and that this shields him from disclosing the documents.
An attorney for the president, Charles J. Harder, said in a statement to The Times that its reporting was incorrect.
“The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Harder said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”