Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani made the rounds on the Sunday shows this weekend and had the unenviable job of defending Trump against the bombshell report in The New York Times revealing he may have legally avoided paying taxes for as many as eighteen years.
Giuliani called Trump a "genius" for his tax avoidance, and claimed that Trump would have somehow been sued for not taking the deductions on his personal income taxes: Giuliani defends Trump: He had an obligation to use deductions:
Rudy Giuliani on Sunday defended Donald Trump after a New York Times report showed the Republican presidential nominee may have avoided paying federal taxes for up to 18 years.
"The Times fails to point out that he has an obligation as the head of a business to take advantage of, and to use the lawful deductions," the former New York City mayor said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"This is rather common in large, gigantic American businesses."
The Times reported late Saturday that a $916 million loss on Trump’s 1995 income tax returns could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income tax for up to 18 years.
The Times obtained fragments of Trump’s 1995 tax records, not previously released, that show Trump reported a federal adjusted gross income loss of $915.7 million in the wake of financial struggles at three Atlantic City casinos, his airline business and purchase of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel.
If the report is true, Giuliani, a Trump adviser, said, the fault would be on the American tax code.
"The reality is that most Americans take advantage of every deduction available to them," he said.
"If he didn't take advantage of those tax deductions ... he could have been sued, because his obligation as a businessman is to make money for his enterprise and to save money for his enterprise. It would be insane for him to not take advantage of that."
CNN's Jake Tapper did push back at the notion that his business interests would have sued him when this is his personal taxes we're talking about, and he whacked him pretty hard over the assertions that avoiding taxes somehow makes Trump smart, and how losing almost a billion dollars somehow makes him a genius. Giuliani flailed around and in the end retreated to their usual defense, which is when all else fails, try to "pivot" and change the subject to an attack on Hillary Clinton.
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TAPPER: Let me ask you, sir, he's selling himself as a brilliant businessman. He lost almost a billion dollars in 1995.
TAPPER: That doesn't sound particularly brilliant to me.
GIULIANI: Well, yes it does. Since he came back. Since he came all the way back. And isn't that the history of America? Imean people like Steve Jobs were fired by Apple and came all the way back. Churchill was thrown out of office twice and came all the way back. It shows what a genius he is.
It shows he was able to preserve his enterprise and that he was able to build it, and the idea he could carry it forward for 18 years means at no time in 18 years did he make $916 million. And of course we know last year he made $685 million. We know from his financial disclosure forms.
TAPPER: He hasn't releases his tax returns. The only reason we know anything about this is because somebody released this to The New York Times.
GIULIANI: No, we know that he made $680 million last year from his 104 page financial disclosure form which describes considerably more about his finances than the tax return.
TAPPER: He's the first major party nominee since 1976 to not release his tax returns. If you're proud of that that's great, but I don't you should be.
GIULIANI: And I am saying, the way all of you are treating this is a very good indication of why someone might not want to release their tax returns. You take something perfectly legal, something he had no choice but to utilize and if he didn't utilize it he would be in trouble, and you try to make into. He did no wrongdoing. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton has violated probably 30 federal statutes. He did nothing wrong. The headline should have been Donald Trump takes advantage of legal provisions in tax code. That's the story.
TAPPER: That's an interesting headline. I think most Americans are probably interested, most Americans pay their federal income taxes.
GIULIANI: Well, I don't know. You don't know most Americans and I don't know most Americans.
TAPPER: I know that most Americans pay their federal income taxes sir. Let me ask you something.
GIULIANI: I also know most that most Americans take advantage of every deduction and every legal opportunity there is to save some taxes so that they don't have to pay as much as they are paying to the government. I know most Americans -- I know most Americans would rather be paying lower taxes under Donald Trump than ten percent or twenty percent more under Hillary Clinton.
TAPPER: Mr. Mayor, in 2012 Donald Trump tweeted that half of Americans don't pay income tax despite crippling government debt. He is in that half that does not pay federal income taxes despite crippling government debt. When he rails against the junky infrastructure, when he rails against LaGuardia Airport , when he talks about how bridges are collapsing, is he not responsible at least in part for the fact that these things are not being repaired?
TAPPER: Not at all?
GIULIANI: No! Absolutely not. The law is responsible for it. If you have a set of laws, you live by those laws, and the reality is you are ignoring completely the fiduciary obligation that he has to the people around him to run his business at the lowest possible expense. Every businessman takes advantage it including Warren Buffett. And Warren Buffett thinks we should be paying ninety percent in taxes. So why doesn't he voluntarily send in that extra forty percent? Let him voluntarily make out a check and send it in if that's what. He does the same thing. he takes advantage of the law.