“We have noticed some comments made in the media about my incredibly qualified nominee, Amy,” Trump says in opening Sunday afternoon’s news conference from the White House podium as Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie look on from the wings. “I’m sort of waiting for the New York Times and the Washington Post, ABC, CBS NBC, CNN, MSDNC – I’m waiting for them to endorse me.”
The briefing has immediately taken on the tenor of a campaign speech.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet has written a note explaining the newspaper’s decision to publish Trump’s tax information.
“We are publishing this report because we believe citizens should understand as much as possible about their leaders and representatives – their priorities, their experiences and also their finances,” he writes. “Every president since the mid-1970s has made his tax information public. The tradition ensures that an official with the power to shake markets and change policy does not seek to benefit financially from his actions.”
Baquet continues: “Mr. Trump, one of the wealthiest presidents in the nation’s history, has broken with that practice. As a candidate and as president, Mr. Trump has said he wanted to make his tax returns public, but he has never done so. In fact, he has fought relentlessly to hide them from public view and has falsely asserted that he could not release them because he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service. More recently, Mr. Trump and the Justice Department have fought subpoenas from congressional and New York State investigators seeking his taxes and other financial records.”
As we wait for Donald Trump to take the podium in the White House briefing room, the New York Times reveals it has obtained the US president’s tax return data for thousands of personal and corporate returns going back more than two decades.
Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750.
He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years — largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.
As the president wages a re-election campaign that polls say he is in danger of losing, his finances are under stress, beset by losses and hundreds of millions of dollars in debt coming due that he has personally guaranteed. Also hanging over him is a decade-long audit battle with the Internal Revenue Service over the legitimacy of a $72.9 million tax refund that he claimed, and received, after declaring huge losses. An adverse ruling could cost him more than $100 million.
The Times report also reveals the financial pressure on Trump is mounting as he is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421m, with most of it coming due within four years.
“Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president,” it reads.
The Washington Post has published an investigation on Donald Trump’s seizure of his father’s estate while the future US president faced personal financial ruin in 1990. Notably, Michael Kranish’s piece does not rely on any anonymous sources, rather audiotaped conversations, depositions and other public documents:
Donald Trump was facing financial disaster in 1990 when he came up with an audacious plan to exert control of his father’s estate.
His creditors threatened to force him into personal bankruptcy, and his first wife, Ivana, wanted “a billion dollars” in a divorce settlement, Donald Trump said in a deposition. So he sent an accountant and a lawyer to see his father, Fred Trump Sr., who was told he needed to immediately sign a document changing the will according to his son’s wishes, according to depositions from family members.
It was a fragile moment for the senior Trump, who was 85 years old and had built a real estate empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He would soon be diagnosed with cognitive problems, such as being unable to recall things he was told 30 minutes earlier or remember his birth date, according to his medical records, which were included in a related court case.
Now, those records and other sources of information about the episode obtained by The Washington Post reveal the extent of Fred Trump Sr.’s cognitive impairment and how Donald’s effort to change his father’s will tore apart the Trump family, which continues to reverberate today.
The recent release of a tell-all book by the president’s niece Mary L. Trump and the disclosure of secret recordings of her conversations with her aunt reflect the ongoing resentment of some family members toward Donald Trump’s attempt to change his father’s will.
With the election weeks away, the documents and recordings provide more fodder for Mary Trump’s continuing efforts to see her uncle defeated by Democrat Joe Biden, whom she has said she would do “everything in my power” to elect.
Trump’s sister Maryanne Trump Barry was recorded by her niece in January 2019 expressing outrage over her brother’s efforts to change the will as their father’s mental capacity was declining. “Dad was in dementia,” Barry said.
Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, said on Sunday she thinks a deal can be reached with the White House on a coronavirus relief package and that talks were continuing, Reuters reports.
“We are having our conversations. And when I have a conversation with the administration, it is in good faith,” Pelosi said on CNN. “I trust (Treasury) Secretary (Steve) Mnuchin to represent something that can reach a solution. And I believe we can come to an agreement.”
Formal talks between Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Mnuchin and the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, aimed at hammering out a relief package broke down on 7 August with the two sides far apart. Pelosi and Mnuchin have since spoken by phone.
With formal Covid-19 relief talks stalled for weeks, the house ways and means committee chairman, Richard Neal, on Thursday said Democratic lawmakers were starting to draft a bill totalling at least $2.2tn.
Pelosi on Sunday said it was “definitely a possibility” that she would offer legislation in the coming days if the impasse with the Trump administration continued but said she would rather have a deal with the White House than a “rhetorical argument”.
Any legislation the Democratic-led House might approve would be unlikely to advance in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.
Pelosi and Schumer had originally sought a $3.4tn relief package but have scaled back their demands. Meadows has previously said that Trump would be willing to sign a $1.3tn bill.
The White House has announced Donald Trump will hold a news conference in the Brady briefing room at 5pm as the US senate prepares to begin the confirmation process for Amy Coney Barrett. Republican lawmakers have floated 12 October as a possible start date for Senate judiciary committee hearings.
Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, who will moderate Tuesday night’s first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, will not be tasked with fact-checking the candidates in real time, the co-chair of the debate commission has confirmed.
“We don’t expect Chris or our other moderators to be fact checkers,” Frank Fahrenkopf, co-chair of the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), said Sunday on CNN’s Reliable Sources. “The minute the TV is off there will be plenty of fact checkers.”
He added: “When we choose moderators, we make very clear to them that there’s a vast difference between being a moderator in a debate and being a reporter who is interviewing someone. When you’re interviewing someone, if they say something that is in direct opposition to something they said a week ago, your duty is to follow up and say, wait a minute, you didn’t say that a week ago. But that’s not the case in the debate. If one of these candidates says something on the stage Tuesday, it’s the role of the other person in a debate to be the one to raise that and say, wait a minute, you’re changing the position and so forth rather than the moderator.”
Fahrenkopf went on to say the CPD would not comply with Trump’s demand – which he reiterated in a tweet on Sunday morning – that both candidates be drug-tested before Tuesday’s meeting.
“One of my daughters is a doctor and I’m sure she doesn’t want me taking anybody’s drug test,” Fahrenkopf said. “So, no, that’s not – that’s not within our bailiwick that the commission is going to do or consider.”
Donald Trump departed Trump National in the presidential motorcade shortly before 2pm after spending the morning at his private golf club in Virginia.
As has become customary during the president’s visits to the Loudoun county property, groups of supporters and protesters gathered outside were there to make themselves heard as Trump left the property.
According to a White House pool report:
There is still a cluster of protesters outside the club, both pro and anti Trump. One sign read “GOP senators are hypocrites.” Another person was laying out small fake gravestones along the side of the road with a sign that said “he knew.” Another sign said “Epic failure democracy killer.” There were also pro-Trump flags and 3 Jeeps drove back and forth on the road with Trump campaign flags waving from the back. Dueling chants of “vote him out” and “four more years” broke out among the assembled group. The chants intensified when the motorcade began rolling. There were about 20 protesters on one side of the street; pool didn’t have visibility to count on the other side, but it was a roughly similar amount.
I’ve been meaning to post this all day, so indulge me.
At the White House on Saturday, Donald Trump made a rather unlikely appeal for civility (reminding me if no one else of Monty Python’s appeal for sanity), regarding forthcoming confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett.
“This should be a straightforward and prompt confirmation,” the president said, “should be very easy. Good luck. It’s gonna be very quick. I’ll sure it’ll be extremely noncontroversial. We said that the last time, didn’t we?”
That was a reference to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, which wasn’t noncontroversial. Some reading follows, if you can bear it:
I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say it again, but if there is going to be a #ButHerEmails hashtag for this election, it should be #ButTheJudges.
The Trump administration has not just appointed (probably) three supreme court justices – it has appointed around 200 federal judges, a hugely consequential achievement with the power to shape US society for decades to come.
Senate majority leader Mitch “Mule Piss” McConnell deserves more credit – in the sense of giving the devil his due, if you’re a Democrat or a progressive – than Trump.
But if there is one person connected to Trump who should be doing victory laps right now it is Don McGahn, the former White House counsel and Federalist Society mover and shaker who put up with no end of what is technically known as shit, in order to see the judges project through.
And he is doing victory laps, telling CBS Face the Nation earlier Trump “made a number of promises on the campaign trail, one is his judicial selection, which he’s done. He’s had a record number of judges out there – on the circuit courts.”
The New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt wrote an extremely good book about all this. In response to McGahn’s interview on CBS Face the Nation earlier, he tweeted:
It really is the case that the Republican establishment has decided to put up with everything Trump can fling at it – temptation to make a King Kong-related gag about what apes often fling at the bars of their cages … resisted – because he has delivered, in the words of former White House chief of staff, treasury secretary and secretary of state James Baker, “conservative judges, tax cuts and deregulation”.
I can’t say often enough that Baker is a man whose best friend was George HW Bush, the head of a family Trump has trashed, trampled and traduced. Baker rubbed Bush’s feet as he died. And yet Baker will vote for Trump.
McGahn was subject to truly astonishing pressure, stress and abuse before he finally left the White House. He’ll vote for Trump too.
Amazing what power can do.
Biden returned to his theme from earlier remarks about the process for replacing Ginsburg, lamenting Republicans’ determination to rush Amy Coney Barrett on to the court in defiance of their own precedent, if not of any actual constitutional provision. More in hope than expectation, surely, he also repeated his call for Republican senators to “step back from the brink” and pause the rush to confirmation.
Two, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – both supporters of abortion rights, as it happens – have said they do not think a justice should be confirmed before the election. That leaves Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, with a 51-49 vote to confirm – more than enough.
In Wilmington, Biden insisted:
The voters will not stand for this abuse of power. And if we are to call ourselves a democracy, their voices must be heard.
I urge the American people to keep voting and to let your current Senators know that you want to be heard before they vote to confirm a new Justice.
And I urge every Senator to take a step back from the brink — to take off the blinders of politics for just one critical moment — and stand up for the Constitution you swore to uphold.
This is the time to de-escalate, to put an end to the shattering of precedents that has thrown our nation into chaos.
Just because you have the power to do something doesn’t absolve you from your responsibility to do right by the American people.
Uphold your constitutional duty. Summon your conscience. Stand up for the people. Stand up for our cherished system of checks and balances.
Americans are watching. Americans are voting. We must listen to them now. We must allow them to exercise their sacred power.
More from Joe Biden’s speech in Wilmington earlier:
“As we speak, we are still in the midst of the worst global health crisis in a century – a crisis that has already taken more than 200,000 American lives. And yet, the Trump administration is asking the supreme court right now to eliminate the entire Affordable Care Act. The administration filed a brief with the court that concludes: ‘The entire ACA thus must fall.’
President Trump can claim all he wants that he’s going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but the fact is, he’s actively fighting to take those protections away as we speak.
If he has his way, more than 100 million people with pre-existing conditions like asthma, diabetes and cancer could once again be denied coverage. Complications from Covid-19, like lung scarring and heart damage, could become the next flood of pre-existing conditions used as an excuse to deny coverage to millions.
Women could once again be charged higher premiums just because they are women. And seniors would see their prescription drug prices go up and funding for Medicare go down.
It doesn’t matter what the American people want. President Trump sees a chance to fulfill his explicit mission to steal away the vital protections of the ACA from countless families who have come to rely on them for their health, their financial security, and the lives of those they love.