The New York Times reported Tuesday that President Donald Trump had managed to lose $1.17 billion over the course of 10 years early in his career, making him, at one point, a businessman with losses more than double that of any other high-income U.S. taxpayer.
While there had long been reports of Trump’s business failings, the Times was able to get access to Trump’s tax information from 1985 through 1994 and provide the fullest look yet at the finances of a president who refuses to make his tax returns public. In 1985, according to the Times story, Trump reported losses of $46 million, at which point the losses began to accelerate, placing him repeatedly near the top of the list of individual losers. Among the results: Trump was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of those 10 years.
Trump responded to the report on Twitter on Wednesday by arguing that it was a part of the “sport” of being a real estate developer at the time. (He also called the story “Fake News.”)
Still, the numbers—more than $1 billion in losses—sound bad for someone who partially built a presidential campaign on bragging about his business acumen. Or, as the hosts of Fox & Friends saw it, the losses just prove what an exceptional businessman Trump was.
“If anything, you read this and you’re like ‘Wow, it’s pretty impressive, all the things that he’s done in his life,’ ” co-host Ainsley Earhardt said. “It’s beyond what most of us could ever achieve.”
“He’s a bold businessman, which is chronicled here,” co-host Brian Kilmeade said. “I can’t imagine having that much money, spending that much money, and being in debt. For him, it makes sense.”
Kilmeade, who casually tossed out that Trump “lost a lot of money over the course of 10 years, if you consider a billion dollars a lot of money,” added: “It’s as if you buy something and it doesn’t pay out right away or ever you’re a loser. No, you take shots, you have an opportunity to do things, that’s the way you live. The reason why we all knew Donald Trump’s name is because for 30 years that’s what he did … What do people not understand about he’s a little bit different from most people?”
In fairness to the show’s hosts, their analysis was more astute than that of one of their guests, Newt Gingrich, who saw the report for what it was: proof that the Trump tax cuts would work. “When you lower taxes, there is less reason to have shelters, and when you lower taxes there is less reason to create losses for tax purposes,” Gingrich said. “So, in a very real way, the Trump tax cuts are vindicated by the New York Times story.”