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New York Times: Republicans greet the news of Trump’s tax avoidance with silence

September 28, 2020

Republican lawmakers reacted with nearly complete silence on Monday to a New York Times investigation that revealed President Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017 and that he oversees a network of businesses that are riddled with debt and losing hundreds of millions of dollars.

Spokesmen for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the top two Republicans in the Senate, declined to comment on the article Monday. Aides to other Republicans involved in writing tax law — Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee — did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Trump initially called the Times article “totally fake news” on Sunday, and then shifted to falsely accusing the paper of basing the report on illegally obtained information about his finances.

Democrats quickly seized on the investigation. House lawmakers, who have spent years fighting in the courts for access to the president’s tax records, hailed the revelations in the report as proof that their inquiries were justified.

“Trump hides his tax returns because, unlike most working Americans, he is a freeloader who doesn’t believe in paying taxes, only personally benefiting from taxes others pay,” Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, said in a statement. “Most any American who pays taxes has paid more than Trump. He is a taker, not a maker.”

The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on MSNBC Monday that the report raised national security concerns because of the amount of money that the president owes to lenders.

“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt, 420, whatever it is, million dollars in debt,” she told Andrea Mitchell, the show’s host. “To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question.”

While Republican lawmakers dodged questions, a few others in the party weighed in. John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio who has endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr., told CNN Sunday that the story could affect blue-collar voters who are not yet decided.

“These folks are scraping to make a living and they’re going to wake up to find out this incredible mogul paid $750? I don’t care what his excuses are,” Mr. Kasich said on “Anderson Cooper 360.” “It doesn’t pass the smell test. It’s not going to disrupt those people who were for him totally. They’ll still be for him. But it’s those people on the fence.”