tv Dateline Extra MSNBC September 27, 2020 8:00pm-10:00pm PDT
that is all the time i have for this weekend. i want to thank my guests zerlina maxwell, christina greer, and tony schwartz. i'm alicia mendez. see you back here next saturday at 6:00 p.m. eastern. my colleague, joshua, picks up our breaking news coverage. >> very busy night of breaking news coverage. hi there, i'm joshua johnson. good to be
with you tonight. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, welcome to "the week." let us begin tonight with the breaking story. some long-awaited reporting from "the new york times." it has obtained president trump's tax returns from the past two decades. the "times'" investigation shows that mr. trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes in the year he won the presidency. not $750,000.
$750. he reportedly paid the same amount in his first year in the white house. the biggest takeaway is that the president has reportedly paid zero income taxes in 10 of the previous 15 years. the "times" says that is because he reported losing much more money than he made. here's what the president had to say about this report tonight at the white house. >> it's fake news. it's totally fake news. made up, fake. we went through the same stories, you could have asked me the
same questions four years ago. i had to litigate this and talk about it. totally fake news. no, actually, i paid tax, but, and you'll see that as soon as my tax returns are -- it's under order. they've been under order for a long time. the irs does not treat me well. >> it is important to note that nbc news has not seen any of the documents related to this reporting. this has been a contentious topic for the president for years now. he's fought hard for these very documents to not be released.
the "times" says it obtained the papers from people who were legally allowed to access them. tonight, we'll break down this reporting with our nbc news colleagues and analysts who are well versed in mr. trump's finances and his presidency. we will also hear from the president's former lawyer, michael cohen. and we'll discuss the significance of this reporting 37 days before the election. national polling shows the president is fighting an uphill battle against former vice president joe biden. let's begin this hour with james carville, he's a democratic strategist and msnbc political analyst. james, welcome. >>. >> thank you, good to be here, joshua. what do you think the top line is of the report? it prints out to 47 pages. there's a lot of detail in here. what stood out the most from this report? >> that the "times" says they're going to keep on reporting this, this is just the original story. we're going to have this another two, three weeks. when you combine that with the
just awful polling numbers that the president had this morning from polls coming in, you see what's going on here. this is a man under enormous stress. he knows he's going to lose the election. he knows he's in terrible legal jeopardy. and my pinion, he's trying to negotiate a way that he can leave with a pardon from the new york state authorities. live the rest of his life out in some kind of peace. he's in a world of political trouble. i suspect he's in a world of legal trouble and got more and more of this coming between now and not just the election but all the way past the election. >> i wonder what this looks like to you in terms of a political strategy for joe biden. we'll get more into the details of the economics in this report in just a second. >> right. >> but the debate is on tuesday. >> right. >> this definitely changes the complexion of the debate. this may well change -- >> it does. >> -- what topics are, changes
what chris wallace asks first. so joe biden has to make some decisions about how he wants to message on this between now and then and how he wants to message a path forward should he become president in light of this reporting. what do you think is his best bet right now? >> so, josh what, he's been setting this up. i don't think he knew the story was coming. it was like a working guy from scranton against a, you know, rich guy from manhattan. so he's been hammering these kind of middle-class themes home during the election. this is not new. i mean, this just fits right into what joe biden has been saying. i noticed he's had a real focus on this kind of middle class messaging in his campaign. in the months of september. so it's hard for me to believe the people in wilmington are not just ecstatic by the story. be honest with you, you'd expect hem to say this, this is one of the best days any presidential
campaign could possibly have. this story fits into it, what people around the country believe, apparently correctly, they're shmucks out there working, paying taxes, you know doirn , doing what they can to make ends meet and people take these write-offs. he gives his daughter money that then he writes that puoff. more and more coming, more and more analysis. who knows where this is going to end. i can't imagine it ends in a pretty place for president trump. i really can't. >> i can see republican strategists, members of the trump campaign, american voters saying, see, this is another attempt by "the new york times" to tear down president trump. they've been trying to do it for four years. the whole russia hoax. everything about -- they didn't listen to us about, you know, the russia hoax and robert mueller and -- >> right. >> -- you know, peter strzok, all of these efforts to try to bring down president trump. this is just a hail mary pass from the democrats and their liberal media cronies to bring
down someone they know's going to quinn in november. what's the pushback for that? >> right. first of all, "the new york times" as much as any institution helps elect donald trump, of course, that's a fact. the second thing is they're going to say that about anything that happens, but the -- this is something that the public has a suspicion of, anyway. this confirms an existence of suspicion that people have is rich people play by a different set of rules than they do. this is why this story is going to hurt more than some of the other stories because they'll sit there and say, you know, we were right. of course, they're going to run against the "times" and the fake news but this is going to hurt. and this gives joe biden -- if i'm joe biden, i'm so much more comfortable tonight with this story than i'd be without it. and, you know, there will be pushback and there will be screaming and yelling and bashing, gnashing of teeth and wailing and crying. at the end of the day this is
bad story for them, really bad story. >> let me pull out part of the report that stands out to me. reading from "the new york times" report. in case you missed the very top t of the program, we're referring to reporting from "the new york times." nbc news has not independently seen the duresults. one excerpt from the report reads, "while mr. trump crisscrossed the country in 2015 describing himself as uniquely qualified to be president because he was, quote, really wish and had, quote, built a great company, his accountants back in new york were busy putting the finishing touches on his 2014 tax return. after tabulating all the profits and losses from mr. trump's various endeavors on form 1040, the accountants came to line 56 where they had to enter the total income tax the candidate was required to pay. they needed space for only a single figure. zero. for mr. trump that bottom line must have looked familiar. it was the fourth year in a row that he had not paid a penny of federal income taxes."
james, what do you make of that particular passage? >> well, i think, like, the "washington post" documented 22,211 lies. that's just another one. no one is kind of surprised by that. and, again, we're going to keep more and more, the story's just going to keep on coming because they're going to keep on pushing the story out and i go back to repeat myself, but it's worthy of repeating, in politics on a pre-existing thought, a suspicion, is proven right, that tends to be more damning than something new. people figured some version of this was true for a long time. now, the "times'" reporting is wrong, they're able to push back on it, show to the contrary that they could come back, but i'm -- i don't think "the new york times" is that stupid, that careless, that lazy. i really don't. i've had my issues with the
"times" over the years but they're not that dumb, not close to that. >> how do you avoid, perhaps, muddying the message? there are things being said about president trump partly because he says so many things that require debunking and correcting. >> right. >> there's so many points the biden/harris ticket is trying to make in terms of the vision they want to cast if they were running the country instead of the trump/pence ticket. how do you decide just from a pure strategic perspective where to put your priority? there's so much to hear right now. think it's easy as a voter even if you've already picked your candidate to just feel super overwhelmed right now. >> got to come back, they were working on this thing for the past, since september, they were talking about this, how biden was a working-class guy, trump was a manhattan millionaire, had to have a realignment of power in this country where workers had more power and corporations less, rich people less, middle-class people more. this fits right into it. what i like about this story, it
makes that message which i think is the winning message much more attractive than anything else. and this should give the biden campaign a real chance to hammer home that most essential part of that message, that working people, middle-class people, on the short end of the stick, and people with big-time accountants, they wilma nl manipulates the books. this plays into it. for god's sakes, don't get off this message, please don't get off it. my plea. >> stay on this message. it's kind of fascinating. >> yeah. have it home, baby. hammer it home. >> it's kind of fascinating that so much of what the president talked about tonight in his press briefing before and after he was asked about this report had to do with the media. and some of the reporting that's been done. he was urging reporters to do more reporting on the investigation into the investigation over the campaign's alleged ties with russia. that was a big topic on some
morning shows today and not others. let's just leave it at that. >> right. >> he was kind of talking what the media's talking about. this report also refers to the way that his media appearances made him wealthy. particularly, his seasons on "the apprentice" on nbc which brought him a total, according to the "times," of $427.4 million, according to the analysis. so, james, before i let you go, this feels like a lot of this becomes the story of perception, of media, of whether the image that you see is actually the person that's there. and of the man behind the curtain that maybe you're not supposed to see. >> yeah, maybe we need to talk to msnbc, see if we get paid a little bit more here. just teasing. you know, yeah, it will help. people don't like the media. and it will excite some of his people, but at the end of the day, this is a crushing story and people have been living with media attacks for a long, long time now. this is a new element and
they'll push back and they'll say it's a liberal media and it's the fake news, but this is going to -- this is going to penetrate. this is going to, again, i come back to the general point, it fits right into what vice president biden's current message is. they should be able to frame this thing and tee it up pretty good. >> democratic strategist james carville, we appreciate you starting us off tonight. thanks very much. >> thank you, josh. love your show. good luck to you, man. >> appreciate it. >> thank you. >> let's continue with nbc national political reporter josh letterman. josh, what more can you tell us tonight? >> this is really sending shockwaves tonight through the white house, joshua, as they're reacting to this. obviously the white house knew a little bit in advance this story was going to be coming out because the reporters from "the new york times" reached out to the white house for comment on it. the president saying he knew sort of generally that this was coming. he didn't know exactly when this was going to drop. we heard the response from the
white house tonight being to essentially dismiss this with a blanket assertion of what the president called total fake news, made up. what we haven't seen the president do is say specifically what he's actually disputing. when nbc's kelly o'donnell asked the president, okay, so you say this is fake news, how much money did you actually pay in federal taxes in those years? the president declined to say. so he won't actually specify what he's taking issue with. another troubling part of this that woe're learning tonight, josh joshua, is about money that the president and his company continue to receive from overseas company while he's actually been in office. we can all remember the president had committed during his presidency not to making any new overseas deals. there's been some very obvious potential conflicts of interest when he's running u.s. diplom y diplomacy, matters of war and peace, but what these documents obtained by "the new york times" show is that the president and his companies have nt continued
receive about $73 million from business deals he had already under way in countries like the philippines, india, turkey, and i think there are two really problematic story lines here for the president. one is sort of what you were just discussing with james carville, which is this issue of fairness and this idea that i think you'll hear from democrats that, you know, the average working-class family out there that president trump says he's fighting for is actually paying quite a bit more in federal taxes than the president is. at least if these documents from "the new york times" and this reporting is true and we have no reason to believe it's not, even though nbc, as you mentioned, has not independently seen that, but the other potential problem point here, joshua, that i think could be even more tricky for the president in the last few weeks of the election has to it with the way he's viewed by his base. a lot of people are going to say is anyone really surprised that president trump was the kind of person who would have fenagled
his legal finances in a way that minimized paying federal taxes? what this really puts a dent in is this notion of president trump as this self-made businessman. as somebody who through his own skills with business and dealmaking was able to amass all of this wealth. what this shows, according to these documents and those tax returns, is that at the same time that president trump was making the representation to the american people that he was making tons and tons of money because of his prison prowess, he was actually telling the irs that he was losing money hand over fist. i think that could be a problematic caricature for the president as we head into the final days of the election. >> yeah, josh, kind of to that point, i'm looking at the "times'" report again, they're reporting since the year 2000 mr. trump reported losses of more than $315 million at the golf courses that he owns. his washington hotel which opened in 2016 has, according to tax records, shown losses of $55.5 million through the year
2018. trump corporation, real estate services company, reported losing $134 million since the year 2000. and that apparently the president personally bankrolled the losses year after year. josh letterman, it's worth noting that this is potentially got some concrete impacts in terms of the way that congressional democrats are investigating the president. we got a statement tonight from richard neil who's the chairman of the house ways and means committee. they've been trying to get the president's tax returns, too. after the supreme court weighed in this july, it opened a new avenue for democrats to request the tax returns in a more precise, more specific way, so, josh, this is not just about purely the image of the president. there could be some larger implications here. >> there absolutely could. it's not lost on us tonight, joshua, that prosecutors in new york have also been trying to
get these documents for a long time. there's been ongoing litigation there and major questions about whether they would be able to get these documents ahead of the election. we don't know whether they'll be able to get it but "the new york times" apparently did. this information one way or the other has made it out to the public really at the moment that americans are deciding who should be the next president with voting already under way in so many parts of the country. this is one more piece of information. it's an indication just like we've seen so many former administration officials come out just in the final weeks of the election to disown the president, essentially, to speak out against re-electing him. we're seeing that this informati information that the meanameric at least a lot of voters want to make an informed decision one way or the other is coming to the surface at this moment. >> thank you, josh, nbc political reporter josh
letterman joining us live. for those just diving in we're working our way through "the new york times" report that reveals two decades of president trump's tax returns and details hundreds of millions of dollars of business losses laid out in his tax data. it also reports that the president in the year that he took office maid $750,000 in t. not $750,000. $750. $750. he spoke tonight at the white house during the press briefing. called the story fake. basically said it was another hit job on him by "the new york times" and said that the tax returns that might clarify all of this are still tied up in an audit. he continues to maintain that that is the reason he cannot release them. that is false. it's well known at this point he could release those tax returns. perhaps few people have quite the perspective of donald trump's finances like michael cohen, his former personal attorney. mr. cohen joins us now on the
line. sir, welcome to the program. >> hi, joshua, how are you? >> i'm well. i appreciate you making time for us tonight. i wonder how you view this story particularly in light of something that you mentioned on page 94 of your book, "disloyal." you state that mr. trump got a $10 million refund from the irs. and according to the book, he said, and i'm quoting, forgive me having to clean up some of the profanity. he said, "can you believe how blanking stupid the irs is? who would give me a refund of $10 blanking million? they are so stupid." mr. cohen, i assume that "the new york times" reporting tonight does not surprise you. >> no, it does not, and one of the things that i talk quite a bit about in "disloyal" is that donald trump's entire image, his self-worth, is based on his inflated actual net worth and something that this "new york times" report is going to do
for -- this is -- i truly believe that donald trump's financial records are the rosetta stone for understanding the depth of his corruption and his crimes and the more that it's unraveled, the more that you're going to see donald trump unravel. and it's the reason that he's fighting so hard to keep it under wraps. >> i do want to ask you about one particular passage in the report. i'm going to read it and then i'd like to get your reaction to it. in the report the "times" writes, "the data contains no new revelations about the $130,000 payment to stephanie clifford, the actress who performs as stormy daniels. the focus of the manhattan district attorney's subpoena for mr. trump's tax returns and other financial information." i'm continuing the quote from the "times," "mr. trump has acknowledged reimbursing his former lawyer michael d. cohen who made the payoff but the materials obtained by the "times" did not include any
itemized payments to mr. cohen. the amount, however, could have been improperly included in legal fees written off as a business expense which are not required to be itemized on tax returns." that's from "the new york times'" report tonight. mr. cohen, can you add any more context to that? >> so, i can, and i also disc s discussed on my new podcast, "mea culpa," that trump doesn't report the income that he claims and one of the things that i also said on one of your competing television shows is that they were probably very lenient in how they took their assumptions and trump's biggest fear is he'll end up at the end of the day with a massive tax bill that will be based on fr d fraud, penalties, fines, and he doesn't have the money. he doesn't -- he's not liquid within which to pay it. so i believe that that's probably his biggest fear. and do i believe that they improperly classified the stormy daniel payment to me? yes, i absolutely do.
and i'm certain that with a little more digging, whether it's by the government or by the fabulous "new york times," i'm 100% certain that will turn out to be accurate. >> why do you think he was granted the leniency, as you put it? why would they go easy on him? >> oh, i didn't say the irs granted him the leniency. i'm saying he is lenient in how he takes his deductions. >> i see. >> and that he used the accounting firm of weiser in order to take these deductions. >> gotcha. i misheard you. sorry about that. are you concerned about the deeper dive into the documents, details of these finances might reveal about his dealings with you? >> not at all. my entire life has been put out there. don't forget when the fbi raided my home, my hotel was staying at, my law office, they took 14 million documents from me. so i have absolutely no fear. everything that there is to know is already out there regarding me. but i do believe that trump's
biggest fear is that if his tax return is released that there's going to be an entire slew of organizations and accountants and forensic accountants that are going to absolutely rip through it and he's going to end up with this massive tax bill. that's legitimately what i believe. >> i wonder what -- >> i'm going to be proven to be accurate once again. look, i was the first one, 19 months ago, to turn around and to say that i do not believe that there will be a peaceful transition of power in 2020. those were my exact words. i also turned around at that same oversight hearing before elijah cummings and i stated that donald trump is a racist, he's a con man, and he's a cheat. well, over the course of the last two weeks, what have we seen? we've certainly seen that donald trump is a racist. it's nobody that could question that. and as far as being a con man, the same thing, how many more reports do we need to receive in order to turn around and to say, cohen was right about that, too. well, now all of a sudden we're
up to the point that he's a cheat. yes, he cheated the irs. now, what i find interesting is people will turn around and say, yeah, well cohen, you went to jail for tax evasion. i also want to say in 2016 and 2017, while he paid $750, i paid in excess of $3 million in taxes to the irs. and that's verifiable, too. so, if i went to jail for 36 months on tax evasion, which probably should have been tax omission, donald trump should do 360 years based upon the numbers. >> i wonder what your sense is, mr. cohen, of how this might affect the president's prospects in november, particularly because i think that for a significant part of the president's base, including voters that i've talked to in the past, the revelations about him being a, shall we charitably say, less than scrupulous businessman, is not the reason they support him in the first place, indeed, some are able to
look past that and support him, anyway. i identified a voter in mccomb county, michigan, outside detroit, who was very strongly supportive of donald trump. and i asked him would you do business with donald trump? to which he responded, "i'd get half the money upfront first." >> and what is your question, joshua. >> i guess my question to you is whether or not you think this will make a dent. whether you think this will make a difference, particularly among the president's political base. that they already kind of know this about him. >> look, joshua, he's got -- he's got a certain base that it truly does not matter what he does, which is why he stated that he could kill somebody on 5th avenue and get away with it. yes. and these people, for whatever their crazy belief system is, and i was part of that donald trump cult, for whatever reason, it's acceptable, but it's absolutely not. i believe that he will lose the independent voter as a result of
this as well as other things like, for example, on my podcast, "mea culpa," i'm in the process right now of producing a special episode on the financial crimes and corruption of donald j. trump based upon what i know and what has been reported. i state in it that he may actually be the first sitting president to go from the white house straight to prison. and i don't think he's by himself, too. i believe allen weisselberg, his cfo, is complicit in it, as well as don, e vunk vauivanka, eric. i believe the entire trump clan is complicit in all of this tax evasion. i mean, these are legitimately what judge pauley stated in my case. these are sophisticated schemes within which to deprive the irs of income, of taxes, that are desperately needed. not putting your money in either capitalone or first republic bank, as i did, and providing all the documents to the
accountant. right? that's also stated in my book, "disloyal," and the sentencing memo. i truly believe this is a very sophisticated scheme of hiding money, whether it's by claiming that he paid $70,000 to cut his hair. look, donald trump cut his own hair. so i'm not really sure where the $70,000 came from. it seems like a lot of money for a haircut. or paying ivanka as a consultant. >> yeah. >> consultant for what? for what? for designing -- for designing her spas in, you know, various different buildings that were working on? the whole thing is a scheme. there's always a scheme when it comes to the trump clan. >> let me ask you, mr. cohen, i appreciate you making time. i know we got to let you go in one second. on a more personal note, i don't mean to get too much up in your business. i wonder how you now today with this latest report reflect on your involvement in all of this. i think one of the mainstreams of your public life,
particularly with the book, with the podcast, it talking about what it's been like to be part of this family enterprise and all of its misdeeds. that's got to be hard on some days when you just get up and look in the mirror and reflect on kind of what's happened over the last few years of your life. how are you personally dealing with all of this? >> well, it's very difficult. and one of the things i talk about, right from the beginning of the book in the epilogue, i was an acolyte. i was somebody that followed and i was deep into the cult of trump and being excommunicated from gave me a totally different perspective. and right now i'm using the book, i'm using the podcast, i'm using this conversation, in order to make amends. first and foremost, with my wife and my children. my daughter and my son who have gone through legitimately this has been hell for us as a family, but on top of that, the country as a whole. what -- what we, as a collective group, despite the fact i am the
only one who seems to have gone to prison for it -- we have -- my goal is to make amends to the country and to -- and to right the wrong that i was so complicit in. >> michael cohen, former personal attorney to donald trump. mr. cohen, i appreciate you making time for us tonight. thank you very much. >> joshua, you be well. have a good evening. >> you, too. for those of us just joining us now at the bottom of the hour, we're working our way through a "the new york times" report detailing two decades of president trump's tax data that the "times" has acquired. it says through people who were legally allowed to receive those documents. among the headlines from this i gigantic investigative report are that for the past 15 years mr. trump did not pay income taxes in ten of those years. apparently because his losses were too great to justify them at least based on the way the documents were written. also among the revelations, that the year that he won the
presidency his tax bill was $750. although, it is worth knowing that doesn't necessarily include taxes for things like social security, medicare, the alternative minimum tax, et cetera. let's continue now with nbc's katy tur who's joining us now on the line. katy, what are your top-line reactions to this gigantic report? i assume you've had a little more time to work your way through it than i have. >> yeah, it's a long report and a lot in there. i think my top-line reaction is ask yourself what you paid in taxes last year. ask yourself what you paid in taxes for the last ten years. ask yourself if you got a deal that allowed you to pay $750 for a single year. the vast majority of americans will say no, i can't pay that much money, i owe taxes on half or a third or maybe even more than half of my income. and i can't write off my clothes for work, and i can't write off my haircuts for work, i can't do
the majority of things that the president of the united states is doing. the other thing that i would say is the federal government uses tax dollars to pay for popular programs. they use tax dollars to do things that every single one of us rely on. paving our roads. fixing potholes. some of it goes to funding our schools. a lot of it goes to funding our military. the functions of our society are underlined by federal tax dollars which is why all of us have to pay in. what donald trump has done is he's taken himself out of that equation by, according to "the new york times," projecting multimillion dollar losses for years to come. politically speaking, this was not as big of an issue as you would have thought it would have been in 2016 before the
election. it had been normal practice for a president or candidate to release their taxes. everybody had accepted it as something that would just happen. donald trump defied that as he defied so many other norms and he wasn't held accountable for it. he wasn't held -- there were no consequences for it much in the same way there were no consequences for the "access hollywood" tape or for going after gold-star families or for going after a federal judge, et cetera. this was the thing that infuriated democrats who said, hey, listen, i want to know where the president is getting his money from. i want to know if he's telling me the truth about his assets. i want to know that -- that this myth or this legend that he is putting out there about his business acumen and the wealth that he's accumulated and the legend that he's selling, his ability to get into the white house and run the government as
well as he says he has run the trump organization, is actually true. and you get that from a president's personal and business tax returns. he didn't do that. and he wasn't held accountable for it by enough people in the country to put him in the white house and part of what i would hear, you heard it from that voter you spoke with with mccomb -- in mccomb -- people understood donald trump might not be the most honest businessman. they understood he might be doing some -- as josh letterman put it so nicely -- finangling behind the scenes when it came to his taxes. >> yeah. >> they thought he was smarter than them, if they knew how to do it, they'd do it as well. if they had the lawyers and account tan ants on share sidth. donald trump is running on his record. the country is not in good shape. millions of people are still out of work.
millions who are finding themselves perm feianently out work because of hthis pandemic and the way the president managed this pandemic. he won by a small margin in 2016 in a few key places. 4.4 million democrats, obama voters, who didn't turn out in 2016. more than a third were black voters. if enough of those voters decide, hey, listen, voting is consequential, voting does matter, elections have consequences, i need to come out to vote again, if donald trump doesn't suddenly pick up a ton of new voters, he has no way of winning tlix. this election. his margins are too small. a story like this might not affect his base but could motivate voters who feel like, hey, i don't want to be cheated, i want to be -- i want the president to be held under the -- to the same standard that i'm currently held on. at least when it comes to my taxes. >> msnbc anchor katy tur looking forward to seeing how this story develops between now and when we see katy again tomorrow at 2:00
p.m. eastern. katy, thanks very much. >> thank you, joshua. >> there's a line in the "times" report that i think is worth reading by way of introducing our next guest. in 1973 richard nixon paid $792.81 in 1970 on income of about $200,000, and the leak of that small tax payment set the precedent where presidents and presidential candidates would make their tax returns available for the american people to see. among the people who covered the rise and fall of richard nixon was a white house kor spopt cor by the name of tom brokaw. later rose to being the editor of nbc "nightly news."correspon us. >> good evening. i'm talking to you deep from the hills of montana. it was an amazing thing.
>> i was just going to ask, tom, how do you see this moment in light of that moment? i mean, just the precedent that was set by candidates after nixon because of the outrage over this. compared to whatever the possible impact might be of this "new york times" investigation going forward. >> it's completely different. you know, what nixon did was -- should say wrong, no question about it -- but it was chump change compared to what's at stake with donald trump and how much he either has not paid or should pay or has not, in fact, been honest with the american people about how much money he has. what is so striking to me, for a die who just loves to tell everybody how rich he is, he doesn't want us to see his tax returns. doesn't want us to know, in fact, what his management has been of his personal finances. and a lot of people who i know who dealt with him over the years believe it's because this
could be well short of all of h his claims. i don't of a major new york city businessman who did business with donald trump who didn't come away shaking their heads. a lot of them were happy to have escaped from having to do too much business with him because in every instance that i know, and these are the blue-ribbon law firms and blue-ribbon banks in new york city. they can tell you one tale after another about how he tried to run the table on them, illegally. he shooed them out of their office. he threatened to sue them. so when he was elected i think a prominent new yorkers, i'm talking about republicans as well, were stunned he was able to sell this to the rest of the country. >> tom, we wanted to have you on tonight to talk about presidential debates. the debate is coming up on tuesday. i'd love to get your sense about how this might change the dialogue going forward, but first, if we could, we have a clip from the 2016 debate where nbc's lester holt asks donald trump about his tax returns.
watch. all right. we'll get to that clip in just one second. essentially, the now-president said he did not mind releasing these tax returns. he's under a routine audit. lester holt tried to push back and say, you're free to release your taxes during an audit, and mr. trump said, well, i told you i will release them as soon as the audit is done, sedgely. t essentially. tom, what's your sense of how this might affect the debate on tuesday? >> well, there's a great old line about politics and a lot about life. you can run but you can't hide forever. and in that case i think this is what we're going through. >> where does this sit for you, say you were moderating on tuesday? where does this sit for you in the context of everything else? it feels like, at least to me, that the list of issues now for voters, now for taxpayers, for sure, is piling up.
not efsh ven in terms of making choice between a candidate. latest nbc polling shows only about 11% of voters say they have yet to settle on a candidate, but with coronavirus and the black lives matter protests and climate change with the wildfires in the west and the economy and people trying to get re-employed, international threats, there seems to be oh so much to think about right now. how do we keep all of these things straight in our heads just to prioritize them? especially now with this new report. >> well, it's one of the reasons we have more than one debate because there are so many issues to be dealt with. not just ronald reagan -- not just donald trump's personal business but also where we are in the world. how he responds to what's going on with the covid virus, for example. how he deals with the emergency needs of so many americans havew and working it out on the hill. so it will come up and this
debate probably. it may be fleetingly. i promise you before the end of the debates we should know about how he's going to duck and dodge when he's pressed on these questions about his personal income and how he's managed his money. and there are any number of people in new york and other places who have gone through this with him. he's thrown them out of his office when they've gone by to collect. these are triple-"a" people coming from the best banks in new york city or best law firms and just refused to pay what he had to know that he owed legitimately. i always believed he didn't want it to be out because it was going to be a lot less money than he was telling the world he was worth. the fact of the matter is if you lived in new york during the days of donald trump, he was going broke every other week. either his airline, his casinos, or his real estate deals, you know, the hotels in new york that didn't make it.
but now he's selling that to the rest of the country. it's going to be tricky because he does have a very faithful following. and joe biden is going to have to approach this in a way that he can make the case against him but at the same time he's got to do it in a way that he doesn't turn trump's people into a kind of vigilante force determined to come and take on everybody. i don't -- you know, i've been doing this for 60 years. i've never seen a political contest quite like this. a presidential campaign, for sure. you know, my first presidential campaign was, frankly, in 1964 when i was working out of omaha and we had candidates coming and going. and we went through terrible time in '68. and now on so many different levels, there's so much going on. we're at war with covid. we're at war with people who want to take us down in other ways as well.
we're at war with each other in this country. there's going to have to be a time when there's a reckoning, if you will. and i would hope that once this is resolved it will be so clear whoever wins, whether it's trump or whether it's a senator, whoever wins, will be able to say, it's time for us to pull together, it's time for us to put this country back on even keel again. we cannot continue in this form. >> be interesting to see, tom, how this message plays in different parts of the country, with different pieces of the president's constituency. it will not be a boring race between now and november, but i certainly hear you on the point about the country. i agree i think a lot of people are ready for this to kind of -- for this chapter to end so we can move on. what we move on to, that's the open question. nbc news senior correspondent, tom brokaw. tom, we really appreciate you making time tonight. thank you very much. >> i'm glad to be here. well-done. we got much more to discuss about this breaking this. this report from "the new york
times" about the president's tax returns. we need just a minute to reset. come on back. we'll keep the conversation going. stay close. (groans) hmph... (food grunting menacingly) when the food you love doesn't love you back, stay smooth and fight heartburn fast with tums smoothies. ♪ tum tum-tum tum tums
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at fisher investments we're clearly different. welcome back. we're continuing to make our way through this gigantic "new york times" investigation, poring over two decades of donald trump's tax documents and finding more than a few issues with the way that he has reported his income, his wealth and his supposed profits over the years. according to "the new york times," hundreds of millions of
dollars flowed to mr. trump and the trump organization, largely from his appearances on and subsequent endorse pts connected to "the apprentice" but that money has been reported to the internal revenue service, spent and used in a variety of ways that call into question the way he depicts his wealth and whether or not he ultimately paid his fair share to the united states government. according to the report in the first year of his presidency, and in the year that he won the presidency, both years, he paid $750 in taxes to the irs. in 10 of the last 15 years he did not pay any taxes at all, reportedly, at least as he reported it to the irs, because he did not earn enough income to pay taxes across his vast business empire. but then tonight it makes us wonder just how vast that empire really is. whether, indeed, it is an empire and how stable that empire is.
particularly, if investigators are able to get their hands on the documents that "the new york times" got its hands on and other documents and if they find problems with the way that mr. trump has paid or avoided his federal taxes. plenty to discuss with our next two guests. we're joined now by david corn, the d.c. bureau chief of mother jones and msnbc analyst. and barbara mcquade, a former u.s. attorney and msnbc legal analyst. barbara, let me start with you. if you are one of the federal prosecutors from the southern district of new york here in manhattan, or if you are a member of the house ways and means committee that has been trying to get president trump's tax returns, just got a favorable ruling from the supreme court that keeps that door open, what's on your mind tonight? >> well, i think that we have found why president trump has been fighting so hard to keep these documents secret and to protect his tax returns from disclosure. there is a there, there, and i think that those investigators are going to want to get their
hands on the documents as well. michael cohen testified at congress about some of the ways that president trump conducted his businesses that suggest fraud that can be proved with tax returns. he said that he would undervalue his revenues when it came to paying his taxes so that he could reduce his tax bill and that he would inflate his revenues for purposes of obtaining loans for business deals like his attempt to buy the buffalo bills. so a comparison of those two sets of documents could demonstrate the kind of fraud that could lead to criminal charges. if i imagine that's the kind of thing that cyrus vance is working on in manhattan and in a new administration, the statute of limitations for tax crimes is six years. you could see even a justice department in the biden administration pursuing these kinds of crimes. >> barbara, i do want to be clear, and by the way, cyrus vance is the district attorney in new york. i want to be clear, barbara, are we talking about things that are illegal or merely illicit?
there are ways to play with the tax system that may be sneaky, slimy, to be fair, depending what tax bracket you're in but within the text of the tax code, they're not technically illegal. what are we talking about here? >> may be president trump takes aggressive deductions and thinks that taxes are for suckers and look for ways to reduce taxes and as you said some instances zero. one way of proving those crimes is to obtain those kinds of records and compare it to each other. when they don't match that means so many of these documents depending which one it is, it could form a base for tax fraud for bank fraud. what's your reaction to this in
washington tonight? >> for couple of years many are demanding donald trump to make his tax returns known. and it is one of the basic norms of modern american democracy. he has resisted it and he lied about his excuses about doing so and now we see that and we know it. i think this will give new light to investigations looking at business enterprises and he started this afternoon by saying they never contacted me for this story. his lawyer is quoted throughout the story. it is highly questionable actions and it is not a surprise. october 2018, new york times again did a 30,000 and showing that trump family engage engaged -- this is "the new york
times" words and not mine, the family engaged in thousands of dollars in tax fraud. this involves ivanka and the family and how much businesses she's done with india, philippines and turkey. it is really about everything. it shows a deal in moscow in 2013 he walked away with a couple of million dollars in profits. what his business partners for some reason give him all that money they end up taking a big hit and a loss on that. so we consider for hours joshua going overall the ramifications and gets to the heart of the donald trump's story. whether he's honest or cheats or whether he is worth what he say he is or whether he's a business genius. his business shows he's lost more money than he made in
years. >> part of his supporters, he triggers the liberals. these 47 pages of "the new york times," this is it. i am not sure what the political implications will be in a real set. we are talking about the same person who got elected with some voters who says you guys need to learn how to take him seriously and not literally. does not excuse what's in this report, i am trying to think what it means politically in terms of the election. does it make sense? >> yes, there is nothing more serious than tax. he'll argue the case here but these are facts. this point in the game people who are with trump through his comments about race and sexually assaul assaults, they're not going to
be dissuaded. they love the fact that he called everything fake news. they're not dissuaded. i think he has all those people already. he's not going to get more people by attacking "the new york times" at this stage in the game. the margin is small. the question is whether this may impact a handful of voters but more importantly they were forced in the next couple of days or if not longer to defend himself and whatever messaging he wants to do is wonderful with the trump administration. it will be loss the next few days because of this. at the same time i am going to say we are political reporters and you and i and not everything is political and sometimes you don't know the impact of it until after the facts. when i did the story of mit romn romney, this time in 2012, i had no idea of any impact whatsoever but you do this and take the information and what it is worth
is a hell of a story. i am jealous of "the new york times" tonight. i have been asking everyday in the tweet for donald trump's tax returns. he didn't do it and "the new york times" did it. now we have far more information. >> barbara mcquade, what do you think ises t the next step. we already heard the chair of ways and means committee. the president will continue to deny this and not releasing the tax returns. where does this go? >> i think one place where the tax returns are really critical importance is with the intelligence committee in the house. they have been concerned about seeing this as well. until part of this investigation into russia. looking at what we know already from the reporting and "the new york times." president trump could never get a security clearance as an employee at the white house or anywhere in the federal
government. he's been living his life reckless and it is reported that he owes about $420 million that is coming due soon and he received licensing fees from the government of turkey. all of those things suggest an incentive that could be used against him to compromise him in his role of commander-in-chief. those are what the intelligence committee is going to want to scrutiny and really go to trump's fitness in the white house. >> according to the "the times" report. they do reveal a bit about the money behind the 2013 miss universe pageant held in moscow. that was the most profitable and generated a personal payday of
$2.3 million. a family helped set up that infamous 2016 meeting, seeking dirt on hillary clinton and also involving a russian lawyer who's connected to the kremlin. so barbara, it sounds like this is much bigger than just whether or not is trust worthy. this is where or not he presents a little threat to national security. i can imagine it may feel hyperbole for folks who's hearing it for the first time. >> when a foreign government has leverage over you either you owe them money or seek licensing or money. all those things can be used leverage against someone. even if president trump is acting above, those seincentive are in place and the american people deserve to know about them and at the least the intelligence committee needs to know about it.
>> david korn, what do you think is the next step from here. we were talking about how to message on this? i think it would be easy for joe biden to for really any democratic across the country to say, see, see, see, this is who donald trump is. now we have more proof. see? and for the rest of the country be like -- and? >> we kind of knew this already. there are all these issues we know that's going to be top issues for voters, healthcare, coronavirus for sure and climate change and fires out west and the future of our relationship with the rest of the world. there are all kinds of stuff for us to talk about. what is your sense of the strategy here, perhaps the strategy could be or should be in light of this report? >> i mean -- well, making my way through this 45-page here, i see at least 100 different political
ads. we'll keep those people busy. the basic here and all those issues you talked about, covid, climate change, social justice and economic justice and for anyone to deal with that in the white house, we need to have sown who some one who's honest who does not lie and cheat. if you have someone there whose core is the core reason to be president or questioned, you can't have him in charge at the time of a pandemic where 200,000 people have lost their lives or we could double the number. that type of person in charge of the country. as barbara reported, donald trump is on the hook with
millions of dollars that he has to pay off the next four or five years and some loans coming up sooner. that you can about the pressure and the conflicts of interests. he's dealing with an economy that's gone off the rail. his fit for office and ability to do the job, it is all in the story. i have not talked to the biden campaign tonight. they're trying to figure out how to weave this story into the criticism and the critiques they already levelled and we'll see to what degree biden comes out swinging on this on tuesday night of the debate. i don't think it is a separate issue. you know in some ways people are going ta so say this is donald trump, he's a con. okay, you are a con during a pandemic. >> david, that's what i was going to ask you before i let you go. this is not anything that i think a lot of president trump's supporters did not know and the fact that he was an outsider or a businessman, someone who's not
schooled in the way of washington was his very appeal. >> yes. now we see he's a genius and businessman, he lost money of most of his endeavors and he has not played straight. everybody on this panel tonight has paid more taxes than donald trump by a factor of thousands. and i mean his people will forgive him for this and those who think he has some sort of side. they'll helicopter to believe the con. the margin is so tight, you can't afford to lose anybody. this continues the integrated story of what's wrong with him personally financially and as a president. it is all together. it is not separate. >> david corn and barbara mcquade. we appreciate you making time for us. our breaking news continues tonight as we begin the next hour of "the week."
hey there, i am joshua johnson, bomb shell report from "the new york times" of president trump's tax returns. according to "the new york times," the president paid $750, not $750,000 but $750 in the year he won the white house and his first year as president. 20 years of tax do you meacume n obtained from the people. the president paid no tax in ten years. he did not earn enough money to pay taxes on his income. the nature of his business as
laid out in this mammoth report raised a lot of question as to whether or not donald trump is the businessman he claims to be or whether or not he portrayed himself in "the apprentice." it was certainly real enough to win him tl white house. one of the big questions is what will it mean between now and november. will it keep him in the white house on january 20th? will it become a reason he loses the presidency or it will allow his political supporters to give him another four years as commander-in-chief. plenty to talk about at this hour. the white house seems to be a good place to begin. let's start with our correspondent, shannon, what's the latest that you heard in terms of reaction to this whether from the trump campaign or from democrats in washington?
>> the president came and lashed out of this report after it was published. the white house scheduled a little bit of impromptu today. it is unclear if they did that because they wanted a chance for the president to respond. it was not in line of how he responds to most news story. he called it "totally fake and made up" and he didn't know anything about the story. if "the new york times" have these documents and they share it, the only way it could be made up is somehow these documents are fraudulent or documented in some way. of course nbc news we have not verified the authenticity of it. the president denying it fake news but of course democrats have already quickly seized on it. we are let's say about 48 hours
away from the debate now. we can add this new one to the list. i saw democrats putting out bumper stickers already that says i pay more in taxes than donald trump. and going into this debate, trump's tax returns was not an issue anymore. it was a big issue in 2016, i was just talking about a former clint clinton's advisor about it today. we'll see how it plays this time. there is so much more about donald trump. he has a record to discuss but certainly it is one more piece that democrats can use to make people uncomfortable with his character who obviously that has been an issue in polling about his character. >> that was one of the points that was made during the briefing, one of the reporters
asked, you know, this is going to look bad for someone who's a billionaire to pay so little in taxes and of course i have to put "billionaire" in air quotes because we don't know anymore. you can fix it by giving us the actual documents but the president continues to falsely maintained that he can't release it because they're under audit. we have known basically since 2016 that's just not the case. he could release them if he sets on it. >> they have stuck with this. it was in july that they were saying his taxes are under audit. we know according to this reporting is one of the reasons of the audit is the $72 million tax refund they are looking
into. maybe when you have a tax refund that long and audit takes a while. of course taxes are his and this is something that a tax expert have raise. his personal records and he could share them with whoever he wanted to. >> shannon pettypiece. we appreciate your time. let's go to stephanie ruhle, i wonder if you can walk us through a little bit of the information we should know about, the taxation here. it seems like one of the top lines of this report has to do with the way that donald trump depicted his business what he had and made and what he owned and who owned it and who controlled it and who in his family controlled it? and the way it affects the irs assessment of him that he may have made a number of fibs big
and small to affect his tax liability. >> and you have laid it out for us. the president have always said listen, if i didn't pay much in taxes it means i am a smart businessman. for those out there saying oh this is how business people work that's why they have tax business. assuming everything you are signing your name to is the truth. when you walk into this and start to dig into it, there is not a clear smoking gun that says oh my gosh he better write a check or send it to jail. this is going to make you ask way more questions. questions about who he owes money to. the president owes over $400 million over the course of the next three years. if he's reelected and in office and on the hunt for $400 million and we don't know who he owes
that is money too, that's a massive national security risk. we know the money invested himself from his business. his property arnound the countr and planet have been used by lobbyists and our own government. these businesses are losing a lot of money. the president is using these losses to not pay his taxes. can a sitting president be a successful person? sure, they can. just because he and his tax accountants signed off on this does not mean it is a-okay. that's why he's being audited. it was not "the new york times" or anybody else saying it is untrue. be our guest, release your taxes yourself, sir, and prove us wrong. >> there is a lot said in the
last few years and i don't want to distract too much from what's being said from the president. the way the 1% or 100th of 1% paid their taxes is one of the hottest topics in the world. >> apple is reported to have $2 trillion carbon hands and there is a lot of reporting of the way it has dealt with its money and putting some of it in ireland and trying to find ways to reduce tax liability and not to pick on apple uniquely. does it say anything to you about the nature of our tax systems as it relates to the 1% or the largest cooperations in our country or is this really much more squarely just about president trump right now? >> this one is squarely about president trump. if you confuse with the others, it gives donald trump out. i am just you know using the
system that you guys made. it was not me. there are two arguments to be had here. first, you are right. the way our tax system is structured makes no sense. the average person on the streets can't afford a tax lawyer. the perfect of having a tax lawyer or a company having a tax department is to optimize your business to pay the least amount of taxes. the fact that the job function exists means the wealthy benefited and the poor are left out. that 100% should be addressed. let's put it in category a. category b of what donald trump done, should be investigated what it is. you should not allow him to say listen, this is how life in the big city or how complicated business works. jeff bezos and apple are not paying a lot? me neither. who his lenders are and how he
can possibly pay only $750 whn he's reporting saying his businesses are in the greens and i am questioning it. it makes no sense. >> one more thing stephanie, in the way the trump organization justified some of these expense in the years the company claims it lost money. it seems like the trump organization used a lot of different justifications hey we don't have the money and depreciation is one of them. the "times" detail ed his tax i the '90s. he said in his words "i love depreciation." as a way of explaining -- there are these clear business reasons that happen to every business potentially for why i make or don't make what i claim to make or not make.
it is depreciation, that's what it is. when he says i love depreciation, he's basically winking at us saying hate the game and not the player. you structured the law. you created tax incentives that benefited these big businesses and he can use depreciation of these properties of his assets in his favor. he can assuming he's being honest about the value of these assets and if he's being honest about actual depreciation. at the end of the day and you take a glance of this, i am sorry, tens of thousands of write off write-offs in hair styling? are you kidding me? our stephanie ruhle, we know we'll be seeing you back here just under 12 hours from now on msnbc. we appreciate you staying up late with us tonight. >> thanks for having me.
joining us now is the former director of the u.s. office of government ethics. that's an agency within the executive branch that works to prevent financial conflicts of interests. mr. schaub, good evening. what would you be planning to do in the morning? >> one of the things that jumped out of me at "the new york times" article is that he reportrepor reported losses in his taxes. one thing is why is he reporting losses on his taxes but mass si income on his financial report. "the new york times" says some of the reports filed with the
government ethics -- that was a way of keeping money in the house. i think that's the first thing you want to jump in on. some of the other things "the new york times" article revealed, something the government of ethics can't do anything about it now but i tried totr tried to do in january 2017. i tried to get him, so the american people can no the motives and the policy decisions and the deals that the president is working out on behalf of america are intended to benefit us and instead of him. and "the new york times" article talks about how he's reeked a lot of income from foreign governments and that he has lobbyists frequenting businesses along with other entities and the financial interests before him. those are things we knew but they really shed a new light on it and they quantify it in a
different way than we knew before. i think this bares out what i was saying in 2017 that if he did not have conflicting financial interests, we were wondering whose business he's putting in first. >> there are a number of ethical rules in washington that applied at everybody else but the presidency is cloaked in such enormous power and trust that there are something that you can't do. it applies to every single employees itself. the president and the vice president. that got to be frustrating. >> it was intensely frustrating. t the conflict of interest laws
required -- a president can't refuse. he needs to be involved in everything. right from the beginning in the early 1970s and the 1980s, after that law had been enacted, the department of justice then the officer of government ethics, urged president to act as if they are covered because of the exemptions was a perk. congress trying to turn this country around. they all did that. they divested or they bought non-conflicting assets or they set flying trust. >> before i let you go for people who look at the story and
think, yeah, one more thing about donald trump that's not going to make a difference in november, contingress can't do anything. he's going to get away with it like he always did. more evidence about the things that donald trump gets the get away with that no one else in the country gets away with. point l pointless. what would you say? >> well, i had more hair before donald trump became president. >> i am sorry, man. >> here is the thing. we see the president destroying america's reputation as a r. i think trump is facing immune or growth. i don't think it have any impact on his followers.
it is about whether enough people in the country are fed up and send a message out in november that this needs to stop. that's where it matters. not in changing minds but in motivating people who may have otherwise sat this one out. >> walter schaub, the former director of u.s. office of government ethics. there are people are working on getting the president's tax returns. particularly the house ways and means committee. there was a rule over the supreme court to allow this committee to request these documents. congressman lloyd dogget will join us when we come back. dogge join us when we come back. the only fda-approved, once-daily 3 in 1 copd treatment. ♪
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i am glad you are with us tonight, we are detailing 20 years of donald trump's tax returns, revealing that in some years the president paid only $750 in taxes. the year that he won and the first year of his presidency and ten of the last fifteen years he paid no income taxes, apparently as he reported to the irs because his business did not make enough money to pay the irs. the house ways and means committee has been trying to get the president's tax returns. joining us now is congressman
lloyd dogget of texas. congressman, good evening. >> good to be with you. you referred to the president as a tanker and not a maker. you went after mnuchin to try the get him to answer as to whether or not he had a responsibility, a statutory responsibility to go after the president's tax returns. i am sure "the new york times" report is something for you, what's the next step? where does it go from here? >> "the new york times" have done an extraordinary job. the information to show donald trump hides his tax returns because he does not believe paying his taxes. it would be hard to find an american taxpayer who has paid
less in income taxes than donald trump. we really see what a fraud he has been with reference to all of this. the ways and means committee initially i saw broad discovery of his tax returns. the ways and means committee ultimately six months into this congress decided to have a much more narrow inquiry. how about the important issues of the audit system. "the new york times" is telling us much more about donald trump. i think that one of the issues that will be before congress this very week is what happens with these gimmicks called carry over that allows for carry backs and avoiding taxes. we included a provision in the relief legislation of the house passed back in may to repeal a
session in the law of the type s of things that donald trump did. we need to look more closely how donald trump manipulated policies while he's been in office to benefit himself and not just the money taxpayers had to pay out but the money he avoided in taxes. there is a great deal of work to do. this week i hope we'll at least standby our decision in the house to repeal this by provision that would not allow him to cheat more taxes. >> let me get a statement from richard neil. now donald trump is a boss in the agency.
"today's report underscores the importance of the ways and means committee ongoing lawsuit to access mr. trump's tax returns and ensure the presidential audit program is functioning effectively without improper influence. i remain confidence that the law is on the committee side. our case is very strong and we'll ultimately prevailed." that's a story of democrat of massachusetts of the ways and means committee. >> what's your number one question now after this new york times report? what's the gap now and your understanding of what we read in the times now and what we would like to learn if you had the actual documents in your hand. >> i agree with chairman neil. i think it is important to be sure the audit function is done correctly. we know donald trump hid behind the audit and i am sure how he's
been able to manipulate that audit since he hired secretary mnuchin and hired the irs commissioner. but beyond that narrow question of how the audits function, we need the rest of the tax returns. the time was in april to get the last two years. we need to know what role donald trump and his administration played and tax provisions to benefit him and other folks like him multi billionaires in the 2017 act and this very week. we don't need special treatments to benefit him. given our homeland security, here is him ranting about immigrants. there are some immigrants who
lacked proper documents who paid more taxes than donald trump paid. i believe the president of the united states has a responsibility to help finance some of our finance government and not to live off other taxpayers. congressman doggett. thank you. >> i do think he needs a refund for that 70,000 he paid for his haircuts. i don't think he's got his money's worth. >> you are trying to get me in trouble. i am not going to take the bait. congressman, thank you so much. before we continue going. i want to get one paragraph report, i don't know if you are reading along with me where ever you are. if you are looking at this and wondering which way to look. this paragraph may tie it down a little bit. i am quoting from the "the times" report. the tax return mr. trump have long fought to keep it private.
his report portrays a businessman who takes in hundreds and millions a year racks up in losses that he avoids paying taxes. the record shows he defends more on more on making money that puts him in potential and direct conflict of interest with his job as president. that may be a good place to bring in my colleague lawrence o'donnel, the host of "the last word" on msnbc. i wonder if that paragraph sums up on what's on your mind tonight in terms of why it is so important? >> yes, it does. there are so many reasons why it is important. the clarity and the simplicity of this story. on the debate stage on tuesday night, everyone on that stage pays more taxes than donald trump. joe biden pays more taxes than
donald trump and everyone watching the debate pays more than donald trump pays. the number $750 because it was in the "times" report, there were more years he paid zero than the number of years he paid $750. and certainly what you have here is the answer to the question why did candidate donald trump refused to disclose his tax returns in 2015 when all the other candidates were doing it but he was against it and why did he continue to refuse to do that in 2016 and now we know.
because it was going to show he paid zero income tax and no one seen the actual tax returns. >> we got a statement from the trump organization in reaction to this new york times story. here is a statement he provided to nbc news. "the new york times" story is riddled with gross inaccuracies. over the years, the president paid tens of millions of taxes. while we tried to explain this, they refused to listen. he goes onto say quote "of course, i can't help but question the timinging of the article, thanksfully most people see this for what it is, another smear to the run off to the election." that's a quote from alan garden from the trump organization.
>> i used to be the chief of staff of the house and means committee where tax laws are written. notice the phrasing. personal taxes. there is no such thing. you never refer to your personal tax. you refer to your income taxes and property taxes or sales taxes. you never ever use the phrase "personal taxes" because there is no such thing. that statement has no meaning whatsoever as has no legal meaning. he's very studiously refusing to use the word income taxes. if we are to be generous and assume the president's lawyer is more honest than the president, the president's lawyer is not just playing and lying trump's
style than we have to do some wild guesses. does it mean that when he pays social security taxes or employees who work for him. he's counting that as donald trump paying taxes to the federal government? those taxes -- that's true. but there is no employers in the world who calls it paying their own personal taxes. that's not what it is. so you think about the range of federal taxation that there is various in the economic activity that is we have. it is absolutely no personal federal tactics that donald trump pays. that's why the lawyer won't tell you anything about what that is. that's just language. >> what about the other piece of
the statement and i am sure this is what the trump campaign will be making in short order though. the president has not been tweeting the last few hours. the statement reads, i can't help but question the timing of the article as a smear campaign. tonight during the news conference at the white house, briefing room, the president did both before and after he was asked about this, focusing on what the media is talking about and what the media should be talking about, the media outlets that are bound to go down in flames because they are not reporting on donald trump favorably enough. >> the timing would have been different had donald trump
released his tax returns five years ago. so the timing is what it is because donald trump has fought and fought on hiding his tax returns and someone with access of that information provided that information to "the new york times." now, that's probably someone who has some relationship close enough to donald trump's enterprises to get these numbers and it is fair to infer and it is someone that does not think donald trump to be reelected as president of the united states. you have the right to come forward. of course there is no day in donald trump's life when this information could have been released when donald trump is complaining about this.
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this new york times report is really quite the bomb shell learning more of the tax returns of donald trump's. there are documents that has been asked a lot at the white house press briefings and including for months leading up to his re-election campaign and during the debate of 2016. here is the question as it was asked by nbc's lester holt. >> we are talking about the burden that americans have to pay, you have not released your tax returns. voters will know if their potential president owes money
or any business conflicts. don't americans have the right to know any con flicks of interest? >> i am under a routine audi and it will be released. you will learn more about donald trump by going down to the federal elections -- >> excuse me. >> you are perfectly free to release your taxes during an audit. so the question and the public has the right to know. >> i told you, i will release them as soon as the audit -- >> that was donald trump as a candidate speaking in 2016 during the presidential debates then. the debate begins on tuesday. it will be interesting to see how the moderator fox news anchor, chris wallace, handles its. >> let's continue our conversation with tim o'brien, a columnist at "bloomberg," he's the author at "trump nation" and
t "the arc of being donald." >> the president have said yeah, i will release it and wait for the audit and he said it again today. where do you think this goes next? >> the audit is a complete -- it never prevented him from releasing his tax. he can release it as freely as he wanted to. the reason he used it as an excuse is he does not want to release what his finance and business look like. how he runs the business and betrays the american people by maintaining conflict of inters
interests while he's in the white house and tax policies that benefited people like him and we know that he did not pay any taxes for a number of years and paid only $750 in taxes. he does not want any kinds of issues come out because he chipped away. he's a shrewd and infinitely successful businessman. >> your book came out 2005 and "the apprentice" debuted in 2004. the errorireporting from the ti nbc news did not verify the documents. according to times, between t"te
apprentice" and a license to get a deal. mr. trump brought in a total of $4.24 million according to the "times." a big piece is his public image is built on and around this. >> if you take a look at that number, donald trump said he's worth $10 billion, he campaigned in 2016 on that figure. it is a complete fabrication. he lied routinely how much money he has. these numbers show he's wealthy and no one ever denied donald trump inherited a substantial amount of money and live very well forever after. he's never been a billionaire he claimed to be. prior to "the apprentice." he's been responsible for driving a number of companies off the cliff financially, banks shun him and to get by, he turned himself essentially
humans billboard and sold his name on a variety of product. he was not a good deal maker and business operator. he played so fast and lose with his taxes that he's embroiled in tax audit. all of these things show that donald trump is not who he is. he would come to washington and help middle america. he's a drifter who's gone to washington to pat his wallet and let down the people who voted for him on bread and butter issues that he failed to deliver on. >> what do you think this will mean going forward in november? i am not sure if you are a hard core supporter of donald trump that this is enough to pull you
away from reelecting president trump in light of the fact and i am not speaking for all voters but for some. in light of the fact that he's about to appoint a supreme court justice over roe v. wade. >> well, i don't think we should access the historical value and the public service by publishing it solely in political terms. there are few issues that's going to move trump. people who have been on defense about how long they can stomach donald trump and comfortably vote for him and he has lost e those voters. i think things like this will firm up the ground he's lost
with swing voters. tim o'brien, senior columnist at "bloomberg," thanks very much. >> thank you. let's bring in barbara mcquade, our legal analyst. i have watched way too many crime dramas. i was always under the impression that these paper work crimes are the easiest, you follow the money and follow the paper and it is quick to catch these types of lies. the number of crimes that have been blown open. ala al capon went to prison for one count. what do you make of this? >> financial crimes can be easiest to prove because they rely on documents and not on witnesses. there is an awful a lot of
questions that these documents raised. one of the reasons that cases like this can be so easy to prove is that you can find not only the tax documents but other documents that refute the number of those documents. in black and white and a bank application, for example, signed by the same person that shows different numbers and by the face of those documents you can prove that the person lied under oath or penalty of perjury. that's what makes it so easy to prover. that's why the manhattan democratic attorney district attorney is eager to get their hands-on trump's documentation so he can make those kinds of comparisons. >> the little editor in the back of my brain -- is that correct? sure enough is correct. if you look at the fbi his
strategi history, he boasted to the press that he struck a deal for 2.5 years but the judge said no. briefly before i let you go, in terms of what the end game is for the prosecutor looking for these documents, what are they hoping to do? it is not they can go after donald trump until his presidency is over. is that kind of what they're setting up for and getting ready for? well, two things. they want to see what the evidence show. >> if they can prove a crime, they can wait until he's out of office in january and charge him with a crime, that won't belong or there is no court precedent that says a sitting president can't be charge with a crime. that's an opinion on department of justice that's binding all federal prosecutors but not state prosecutors.
so we can push this issue and all the way to the supreme court and get a definitive holding on that issue. >> barbara mcquade, thank you. >> we have been getting react n reactions from a variety of the political spectrum. here is part of the statement from the trump's organization. "the new york times" story is riddle with gross and in accuraci accuracies. thankfully most people see this of what it is of another smear for the campaign. from nancy pelosi, "the new york times" report provides a window into extraordinary measures that president trump has used to game the tax code and avoiding paying his fair share of the taxes.
>> we want to bring in one more guest. jerry yates is joining us now. >> thank you for having me. >> a lot of what you write about is the way we talk about america. that sounds like it is very much in line of what we are talking about tonight because of methodology around donald trump is what allowed him to get rich and how rich he is and how he spent those documents. based on your research, where do you think this goes from here. we are a little more savvy these days than we used to be in terms of paying attention to the man behind the curtains. at least i think we are. >> i was sitting here thinking and when i was a 16 years old
cashier, i paid more taxes than the president of the united states of america. that's staggering. the idea that this inequality keeps us from reaching some sort of motor -- the people who are making so much money and i think what we have seen here is we have seen donald trump is not only, not the success that he's going to be and my research for american role that i found time and time again even of the time of "the apprentice," people had to go around his empire and shine it up to make sure he's a success. he's been a fraud all along. america has become another one of these crumbling trump property that he used to build t taxpayers. >> i do want to get to one answer from your book.
it becomes obvious that the march on the stone wall uprising, frederick douglas, and the ability of people continue to strive and dreaming are just as inspiring as a ban of 18th century - >> i don't want to put too many words in your mouth but it sounds like what you are saying that we can pivot the way we can decide who we want to look up to. not because their network but because of their worth. >> absolutely. >> the methodology of donald trump is that he has been some self-success. i think we need to reconfigure of what we think of him and we
think of success in this country. we need to look at people who strived against the system that held him in checks. i think when we start looking away from this conspicuous conception, i think we can find people who can lead us to a better future. >> are you optimistic about us passing off some of those myths before we go? >> i had moments of optimism and real fear. i think this is a turning point. we are on the press of something that's really important now and we have a lot of old myths and ideas we move away from. >> jerry yates, we appreciate you making the time. thanks very much. >> thank you. >> so much more to discuss with this story, please keep an eye
on msnbc.com, we'll continue to follow the latest on this. interesting to find out what the house ways and means committee does. they are still looking for president trump's tax returns. the supreme court gave them another avenue to get at them. we expect to hear more on that tomorrow. you can join us on saturday and sunday at 8:00 p.m. eastern. please bring a friend. tomorrow morning hang out with kasie hunt. he'll have the latest on the news maker we are sending the toll for the day in reaction to this bomb shell report from the nor new york times. we appreciate you stay up with us as we try to make sense of the story. until we meet again, i am joshua johnson, make it a wonderful week. we'll continue our coverage next on msnbc. >> i was one of the last to
suspect anything and even though you were hopeful, you knew as soon as you were at the podium. >> how was anybody looking at somebody drown and not help them? how do you do that? a perfect husband and a perfect father and a perfect mystery. >> they found boat, mike was not in it. >> we thought maybe he had an accident. mike was the only huntone that found. >> there is so many wild stories. >> two lovers share a secret. >> there was an affair happening for years. they can choose each other. >> you are waiting for that crack. >> obviously she knew what happened. she had to know.
or choose the truth. finally we are going to find out what really happened. maybe justice will be served. ♪ hello and welcome to "dateline." the perfect husband, mike willia williams, friends everyone jon they would love to have a mike williams of their own. a tragic, here is dennis murphy with secrets of lake seminoles. >> an hour outside of florida state capitol of the deep south. fishing/hunting country with spanish moss. and it was there in the year of
2000s on a december morning, an experience outdoor went hiking. morning hours were his to hunt. >> that was his outlet and what he enjoyed. >> he never came back. he seemed to have simply vanish. his wife, denise, called around to family. late afternoon mike a brother, nick, got the worrying news. >> there would be a search that started at lake seminole. mike is a very skilled hunter. we thought that maybe he had an accident. >> a formal search began on the 30,000 acre lake. one member of the search party