The Slatest

Trump Surrogates: NYT Story Shows Candidate Is a “Genius” With Taxes

Supporters of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attend a campaign event on October 1, 2016 at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Manheim, Pennsylvania.

Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s campaign seems to have settled on a talkingpoint to deal with the devastating New York Times piece that says the Republican candidate may not have paid federal income taxes for 18 years: it shows just how much of a genius he is. On the Sunday talk shows, Trump’s supporters tried to spin the NYT story as an example of the Republican candidate’s business prowess.

“My response is he’s a genius,” Rudy Giuliani said on ABC’s This Week. Giuliana said all Trump did was take advantage of existing tax law, just like any good businessman would. “He would have been a fool not to take advantage” of the laws, the former New York City mayor said.

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Giuliani used the word “genius” a lot during the interview and later said: “It shows you what a genius he is — how smart he is, how intelligent he is, how strategic he is. I want that working for me. I want to see if he can produce these kinds of results for us.” And he also compared Trump’s strategy for apparently not paying takes to the way the “poor take advantage of loopholes and pay no taxes.” He had much the same message on CNN and NBC News. “The man is a genius,” Giuliani said on CNN. “He knows how to operate the tax code for the benefit of the people he’s serving.”

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie struck a similar note on Fox News Sunday, arguing that the story only illustrates Trump is the best person for the job of president. “There’s no one who has shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code and to rightfully use the laws to do that and he’s already promised in his tax plan to change many of these special interest loopholes and get rid of them so you don’t have this kind of situation,” Christie said.

Despite what anyone might say the Times story “was actually a very, very good story for him,” Christie argued.

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders struck a very different tone, saying the way Trump could have avoided paying taxes for almost two decades “is exactly why so many millions of Americans are frustrated. They’re angry, they’re disgusted, at what they see as a corrupt political system in this country.”

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