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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that the New York Times report that President Trump has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due within the next four years is a "national security question," and that the public has a "right to know" the details of his financial obligations.

The big picture: Democrats have already leapt on the Times' bombshell, which Trump has dismissed as "total fake news," to attack the president for allegedly paying less in federal income taxes than the average middle-class household.

  • Pelosi and several former law enforcement officials, including former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former Mueller prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, have suggested that loans personally guaranteed by Trump could leave him vulnerable to foreign influence.
  • "This president is commander-in-chief," Pelosi said on MSNBC. "He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. To whom? The public has a right to know."

Driving the news: On the eve of the first presidential debate, the Times revealed 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, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president."

Between the lines: The revelations give Joe Biden a political gift for the debate. Biden has been attacking Trump’s inheritance-fueled privilege, trying to chip away at the president'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."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jan 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

A tense, tectonic 48 hours

A stage goes up on the Ellipse yesterday ahead of tomorrow's pro-Trump rally. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

The next two days look to be the most tumultuous and telling of the wild, never-ending 2020 election.

Driving the news: Twin runoffs in Georgia today determine control of the U.S. Senate. And perhaps half or more of the Republicans in Congress will cast an unprecedented number of votes to invalidate President-elect Biden’s clear win, as the House and Senate meet to certify the Electoral College votes.

Jan 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sen. Tim Scott will vote to certify Biden’s Electoral College win

Sen. Tim Scott addresses the Republican National Convention. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will certify Joe Biden's Electoral College win, refusing to join the growing number of Republicans planning to object to the process, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Scott, who joins several veteran Republican senators standing firm against President Trump's efforts to overturn his legitimate election defeat, sparked buzz about a 2024 presidential run after getting the red carpet treatment at the Republican National Convention in August.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Biden starts negotiating to raise capital gains tax rate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden wants to nearly double the capital gains tax paid by wealthy Americans, as first reported yesterday by Bloomberg and confirmed by Axios.

Counterintuitive: Biden's plan is better for private fund managers (hedge, PE, VC, etc.) than what he proposed during the campaign.