WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump called on Wednesday the report that he amassed a large part of his fortune by committing tax fraud “boring” and “false.”
Trump described the article, which appeared Tuesday in The New York Times, as a “hit piece.”
“The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of ‘time value of money’ in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Added up, this means that 97% of their stories on me are bad. Never recovered from bad election call!” the president added, suggesting that the paper was still holding a grudge over his winning the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has often used the daily as a whipping boy, repeatedly accusing it of publishing “fake news,” particularly concerning stories that are unfavorable to him.
The very detailed piece in question says that Trump, along with his siblings, created a sham corporation to hide millions of dollars funneled to them by their parents and taxed at far below the real value of the assets that his father’s real estate business passed to him – a scheme cooked up to avoid paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.
In all, The Times calculated that Fred and Mary Trump, the president’s parents, transferred to their children a fortune of more than $1 billion for which they paid only $52.3 million in taxes, far below the approximately $550 billion they should have paid in gift taxes on those assets had they been valued at their true worth.
In her daily Wednesday press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders insisted that the 14,000-word piece was a “totally false attack based on an old, recycled news story.”
The daily, which analyzed a huge archive of tax statements and other documents from the 1980s and 1990s pertaining to Fred Trump’s real estate empire and other companies and businesses, emphasized that over the years Donald Trump received from his father the equivalent of more than $413 million, which contradicts the president’s repeated claims that he had started off with merely a “$1 million loan” from his dad and parlayed it into some $10 billion.
Fred Trump, who died in 1999, was a successful New York builder who made a fortune on urban development in various neighborhoods in the Big Apple, including Brooklyn and Queens, a real estate empire that later Donald devoted himself to managing.
The president has often repeated that his wealth is due to his own business acumen.
After the daily’s revelation, spokesman James Gazzale, with the New York Department of Taxation and Finance, said – without providing further details – that it had launched a review of the account.
Gazzale’s office has the authority to impose fines and punishments for violations of tax and other laws and can send cases to the state Attorney General’s Office to begin criminal proceedings.
However, in this case it seems that Trump will avoid any potential criminal responsibility because the alleged irregularities occurred decades ago and the statutes of limitations on them have expired.
In a statement, an attorney representing Trump, Charles J. Harder, said that the paper’s accusations of tax fraud and evasion are “100 percent false, and highly defamatory.”
“The facts upon which the Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate,” Harder added.
Doubts about Trump’s fiscal practices are not new, given that during the 2016 presidential campaign a number of reports surfaced about financial maneuvering to avoid taxes.
In contrast to other recent presidents, Trump has consistently refused to make his tax returns public.
According to the latest list of the 400 wealthiest people issued by Forbes, Trump’s fortune stands at $3.1 billion.