On the eve of the first debate, The New York Times revealed President Trump's paltry federal income tax payments — $750 each in 2016 and 2017, and $0 in 10 of the previous 15 years, because of losses — as well as this jaw-dropping surprise:
- "[W]ithin the next four years, more than $300 million in loans — obligations for which he is personally responsible — will come due."
- "Should he win re-election," The Times notes in the 9,800-word story, "his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president."
Why it matters: The Times reports a "Gathering Storm" around Trump — mounting business losses; an ongoing IRS audit over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund he received; and the personally-guaranteed debts.
- The documents "reveal the hollowness, but also the wizardry, of the self-made-billionaire image honed through 'The Apprentice,'" The Times notes in an accompanying timeline.
Between the lines: The revelations give Joe Biden a political gift for tomorrow's debate. Biden has been attacking Trump’s inheritance-fueled privilege, trying to chip away at Trump’s bond with white, working-class voters.
- Now there's evidence that the president has been paying far less in income tax than many of the blue-collar workers who voted for him.
- Scott Jennings, a Republican consultant, said on CNN when asked how Trump will handle the leak during the debate: "He thinks this makes him look smart."
The Times writes that all the information "was provided by sources with legal access to it."
- Times executive editor Dean Baquet writes in a separate editor's note: "We are not making the records themselves public because we do not want to jeopardize our sources."
- Axios' Felix Salmon notes that with so many investigations into Trump and his enterprises, the number of people with access to the data is large, including law enforcement, banks, outside counsel and more.
At a news conference shortly after the article posted, Trump called the findings "totally fake news, made-up, fake," but didn't dispute any specific point.
- Asked how much he's actually paying, Trump replied: "[W]ell, first of all, I’ve paid a lot, and I paid a lot of state income taxes, too."
What's next: The Times notes that "additional articles will be published in the coming weeks."
- Go deeper (subscription): The Times posted 2,200 words of takeaways.