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Campaign 2016 updates: Trump defends business failures, says he paid as little tax as possible

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Donald Trump heads to Colorado, and Hillary Clinton campaigns in the battleground state of Ohio:

  • Donald Trump defends his business failures, says he paid as little tax as possible.
  • Hillary Clinton taunts Donald Trump in Ohio.
  • New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman orders the Trump Foundation to cease fundraising.

Donald Trump on $1-billion tax write-off: ‘I did a great job’

(Brennan Linsley / Associated Press)

Donald Trump on Monday argued that his efforts to rebuild his company during a real estate downturn, including the use of tax breaks that allowed him to write off nearly $1 billion in losses, showed that he had the fortitude to rebuild the nation.

The GOP presidential nominee called a media report about his taxes two decades ago “a little ridiculous,” but defended his use of tax loopholes that he said were designed to benefit special interests. He pledged to fix the tax code if elected president.

“I’m a big beneficiary,” Trump told thousands of supporters at the Budweiser Events Center in Loveland, Colo. “But you’re more important than my being a beneficiary, so we’re going to straighten it out and make it fair for everybody.”

Trump has long resisted releasing his tax returns, leading Democrats to assert he was hiding unflattering information about his wealth, his charitable giving or his foreign business ties. On Saturday, the New York Times published a report that in his 1995 tax return, Trump declared a $916-million loss, a move that could have allowed him to pay no federal income taxes for nearly two decades afterward.

The report was a bombshell, coming at the end of a bad week for Trump that included a shaky debate performance and a feud with a former beauty contest winner. But Trump sought to paint the news about his taxes into a parable for how he would govern.

Trump said the real estate downturn in the 1990s was comparable to the Great Depression, and pointed to his use of the tax code as among the reasons his company survived.

“I was able to use the tax laws of our country and my skills as a business person to dig out of this real estate depression when few others were able to do it,” he said. “In those most difficult times, when so many had their backs to the wall, I reached within myself and delivered for my company, my employees, my families and the communities where my properties existed. I did a great job.”

He added that many believed he would fail, just as they lacked faith in the people in the audience.

“I never had any doubts and I never, ever gave up, like the people in this room. We never do,” Trump said. “… That’s what I am, and what you are. We’re fighters. And I’m now going to fight for you. We’re bringing our country back.”

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Biden says Trump ‘completely uninformed’ on mental health of combat vets. Veteran calls Trump ‘thoughtful’

Vice President Joe Biden called Donald Trump “completely uninformed” about war veterans’ mental health on Monday after Trump told a military group that they were strong but others “can’t handle” post-combat stress.

Biden’s comments came as the Trump campaign said the Republican nominee’s remarks in Virginia on Monday morning were taken out of context by critics.

“Mr. Trump was highlighting the challenges veterans face when returning home after serving their country,” retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, a Trump advisor, said in a statement calling the news media a “propaganda arm” of Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“He has always respected the service and sacrifice of our military men and women — proposing reforms to Veteran Affairs to adequately address the various issues veterans face when they return home.”

At the Virginia town hall with retired military officers, Trump was asked whether he would support “a more holistic approach” to veteran suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder and related mental health issues.

“When you talk about the mental health problems when people come back from war and combat,” Trump responded, “and they see things that maybe a lot of folks in this room have seen many times over, and you’re strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can’t handle it.

“And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn’t see in a movie. Nobody would believe it. Now we need a mental health help and medical, and it’s one of the things that I think is least addressed, and it’s one of the things I hear, like your question, one of the things I hear most about when I go around and talk to the veterans.”

Biden read part of Trump’s remarks to a crowd at a Clinton campaign event Monday in Sarasota, Fla.

“I don’t think he was trying to be mean,” Biden said. “He is just so thoroughly, completely uninformed.”

In a statement released by the Trump campaign, Chad Robichaux, a Marine sergeant who asked Trump the question in Virginia, said it was “sickening that anyone would twist Mr. Trump’s comments” for politics.

“I took his comments to be thoughtful and understanding of the struggles many veterans have, and I believe he is committed to helping them,” said Robichaux, an Afghanistan war veteran who founded the Mighty Oaks Warrior program in Temecula, Calif.

The statement did not mention Biden.

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Don’t trust Donald Trump’s promise of change, Hillary Clinton says

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton, who has become an avatar for the political establishment during this presidential campaign, acknowledged voters’ hunger for change but warned that Donald Trump could not be trusted to make the improvements they wanted.

“I know people want change,” she said in Akron, Ohio, on Monday. “We’ll have change. It’s just what kind of change.”

She added, “It’s whether or not we have change that helps the vast majority of Americans ... or continues to only help those at the top.”

Trump has excited voters with his searing, sweeping indictment of the country’s political leaders, arguing that he represents a break from a corrupt system.

Convincing voters otherwise has been a challenge for Clinton, who has been a public figure for decades, dating to when she was Arkansas’ first lady and her husband was running for president. Polls show her trailing in Ohio, which has historically been a crucial swing state.

To combat Trump’s pitch, Clinton portrayed him as the beneficiary of the same corrupt system he has decried. She repeatedly pointed to his avoidance of federal income taxes and his refusal to pay contractors who worked for his businesses.

“If anyone in the crowd knows someone voting for Trump,” she said, “you’ve got to stage an intervention.”

“You’ve got to sit them down and point out that everything he says he wants to do is absolutely opposite of what he has done,” she said.

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Trump defends business failures, says he paid as little tax as possible

Mocked by Hillary Clinton for his business failures and nearly $1 billion in tax write-offs, Donald Trump defended his financial losses in the 1990s and took credit for “brilliantly” using tax laws to pay as little as possible.

“As a businessman and real estate developer, I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit,” the Republican presidential nominee told supporters at a rally in Pueblo, Colo.

Trump said he’d tried “to pay as little tax as legally possible, and I must tell you: I hate the way they spend our tax dollars.”

His comments came two days after tax documents published by the New York Times showed that he reported a $916-million loss on his 1995 tax return, a move that may have cleared the way for him to pay no federal income taxes for as long as 18 years.

Trump’s tax windfall stemmed from his Atlantic City casinos, a failed airline business and his poorly timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, the newspaper reported.

On Monday, Trump referred to the 1995 tax return excerpts published by the newspaper as “an alleged tax filing,” but did not dispute what they revealed.

Trump described the early 1990s as a brutal economic downturn. “Some of the biggest and strongest of companies went absolutely bankrupt, which I never did, by the way — are you proud of me?” Trump said.

Four Trump businesses filed for bankruptcy protection at the time, and two others did so subsequently, leaving many of his vendors unpaid.

Trump said his tax history made him well-suited to change the nation’s “unfair” tax laws. “Fixing our broken tax code is one of the main reasons I’m running for president,” he said.

“I’m working for you now — I’m not working for Trump,” said Trump, who has proposed substantial tax cuts for the wealthy, including the elimination of the estate tax, which could save his heirs billions of dollars.

As for his business failures, Trump said it was his comeback that mattered most. “When the chips are down, that’s when I perform my best,” he said.

Trump also sought to contrast his wealth with Clinton’s, saying his Democratic rival acquired hers by exploiting her work as a former secretary of State.

“Hillary Clinton has never created a single job in her entire life,” Trump said.

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Pennsylvania was once merely important in presidential elections. Now, it’s Hillary Clinton’s firewall

Alfre Woodard cold-calls voters from a Hillary Clinton campaign office in west Philadelphia.
Alfre Woodard cold-calls voters from a Hillary Clinton campaign office in west Philadelphia.
(Cathleen Decker / Los Angeles Times)

The lights cut out suddenly in the bare-bones storefront in northeast Philadelphia that houses Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign office.

But it was prime calling time, so volunteers who spend hours each night contacting voters worked by the light of their cellphones, pleading for support in the dark.

The power failure last week, which affected several buildings, forced campaign officials to move their celebratory launch of Pennsylvania Latinos for Hillary into a used furniture store across the street.

Then, once there, community leaders who were expected to take part in a pep rally instead took turns excoriating a senior Clinton campaign official for what they saw as a lackluster commitment to the area. In tones of dread, they demanded more ads, more mailers, more of anything that could help them help defeat Donald Trump.

In Philadelphia, the Democratic political pulse is thrumming with both resolute optimism and panicky fear.

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N.Y. attorney general orders Trump Foundation to halt fundraising

(Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images))

The New York attorney general has ordered the Donald J. Trump Foundation, headed by the Republican presidential candidate, to immediately “cease and desist from soliciting contributions in New York.”

The agency said the foundation was in violation of state law by raising money in New York while failing to register itself as a charity and to file financial statements.

“The failure immediately to discontinue solicitation and to file information and reports… shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York,” read a harshly worded letter from the attorney general’s office dated Friday and made public Monday on the agency’s website.

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Pence blocking of Syrian refugee aid violates discrimination law, court finds

(Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty Images)

On the eve of the vice presidential debate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was blocked by an appeals court from withholding public money from Syrian refugee resettlement programs.

By singling out those fleeing the ravages of war in Syria, Pence violated the federal law mandating that refugee aid be provided “without regard to race, religion, nationality, sex or political opinion,” a three-judge panel of the of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit found.

Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, argued that some Syrian refugees seeking to settle in Indiana were disguised Islamic State terrorists planning to attack the U.S. The court dismissed his argument as “nightmare speculation.”

Pence provided “no evidence that Syrian terrorists are posing as refugees or that Syrian refugees have ever committed acts of terrorism in the United States,” Judge Richard A. Posner wrote in the opinion upholding a lower court injunction against Pence.

The judge described Pence’s case as the equivalent of saying “that he wants to forbid black people to settle in Indiana not because they’re black but because he’s afraid of them, and since race is therefore not his motive he isn’t discriminating.

“But that of course would be racial discrimination, just as his targeting Syrian refugees is discrimination on the basis of nationality,” Posner wrote.

The court said 174 Syrian refugees came to Indiana in the last fiscal year, and Pence was effectively blocking private agencies from distributing federal resettlement money to help them learn English and find jobs.

President Obama authorized admittance of 10,000 Syrian refugee “in recognition of the horrendous conditions in Syria resulting from that nation’s civil war,” the court said.

Because of a heightened fear of terrorism, all refugees “are required to undergo multiple layers of screening” by the U.S. government after an initial vetting by the United Nations, a process that can take up to two years.

Trump has called for banning all Muslims from entering the U.S. He has also vowed to block all refugees from the Syrian war from coming into the country.

Kara Brooks, a spokeswoman for the governor, issued a statement saying Indiana “took decisive action last year to suspend resettlement of Syrian refugees after the terrorist attack in Paris and because the FBI and Department of Homeland Security acknowledged security gaps with regard to screening refugees from Syria.”

The statement also cited a recent acknowledgement by State Department spokesman John Kirby that there was potential for Islamic State terrorists to insert themselves into the refugee program.

1:25 p.m.: This post was updated with Pence spokeswoman comment.

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Hillary Clinton has populism for voters and taunts for Donald Trump in Ohio

Hillary Clinton portrayed Donald Trump as a chief beneficiary of an unfair economic system that she wants to change as president, telling supporters here that he “represents the same rigged system he claims he’s going to change.”

She blasted Trump over a recent New York Times report showing Trump suffered a nearly $1-billion loss in 1995, a deficit he could have used to avoid paying federal income taxes for almost two decades.

“It seems Trump wasn’t contributing anything to our nation,” Clinton said. She also mocked his financial problems, saying, “What kind of genius loses a billion in a single year?”

The criticisms of Trump, who has insisted his business acumen has prepared him for the Oval Office, were one part of a speech that was equal parts economic wonk and populist.

Though Clinton has suffered from her perceived coziness with Wall Street, she took a hard line against “those who get rich by cheating everybody else.”

“I want to send a clear message to every boardroom and executive suite across our country,” Clinton said. “If you scam your customers, exploit your employees, pollute our environment or rip off the taxpayers, we will hold you accountable.”

She directed some of her ire toward Wells Fargo, which generated revenue by opening nearly 2 million accounts for customers without their consent. Clinton called it indicative of a “cowboy culture” on Wall Street, showing that banks are still “playing fast and loose with the law” years after the financial meltdown.

Clinton pledged again to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade agreement pushed by President Obama that has been a lightning rod in the campaign.

“I oppose TPP now, I’ll oppose it after the election, I will oppose it as president,” she said.

Trump, who also opposes the deal, has criticized her stance as insincere, noting that she worked on the partnership while she was Obama’s secretary of State.

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New York attorney general orders Trump Foundation to cease fundraising

New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman says the Donald J. Trump Foundation violated a state law requiring such charitable organizations to be registered with the state.
(Richard Drew / Associated Press)

New York’s attorney general has ordered Donald Trump’s foundation to cease all fundraising activities after finding that it violated a state law requiring such charitable organizations to be registered with the state.

The office of Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, says the notice of violation order was sent to the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Friday. It also ordered Trump’s foundation to provide documentation of all fundraising activity for recent years within 15 days, and said that failure to do so “shall be deemed to be a continuing fraud upon the people of the state of New York.”

The cease-and-desist order comes four days after the Washington Post first reported that the Trump family foundation never obtained the required certification to solicit public funds. State law requires that certification for any charity raising more than $25,000 per year from the public.

In a statement to NBC News, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks questioned the political motive of the attorney general’s order. But the foundation “intends to cooperate fully with the investigation,” the statement added.

Trump had already been on the defensive since the Sept. 26 presidential debate, over his failure to release personal tax returns and his comments about a former Miss Universe.

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Donald Trump’s tax claim featured in new Democratic ads

Hillary Clinton’s campaign and a pro-Clinton super PAC are taking Donald Trump’s taxes to the airwaves.

The campaign’s new spot highlights the New York Times report that Trump could have avoided paying taxes for 18 years because of the nearly billion-dollar loss he reported on his 1995 tax returns.

It uses footage of Trump saying in last week’s debate that not paying federal income taxes “makes me smart,” before asking: “What does he think of you?”

The kicker is a clip from Trump at a campaign rally this year asking his audience: “How stupid are the people of the country?

The new ad from Priorities USA, the main pro-Clinton super PAC, features the same “makes me smart” quote from Trump. An Ohio woman then describes her reaction: “I felt like I was being called stupid.”

“I want a president who’s proud of our country, not a president who’s proud of getting out of paying taxes,” Marly Hittepole says.

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Donald Trump preps for debate in public

(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

Donald Trump campaign staffers who’ve been raising concerns in the press about his unfocused private debate preparations may have found a solution: bring the practice sessions into public view.

The Republican presidential hopeful delivered remarks and then fielded questions Monday from an audience of retired military officials in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. For a candidate who prefers public rallies to private practice sessions, the campaign at least could get him comfortable with a version of the format of Sunday’s town hall-style debate.

In his remarks, he focused on his plan for cybersecurity, a topic that came up in the first presidential debate but one that Trump seemed to struggle with. (His debate answer included a random reference to his 10-year-old son’s being “good with these computers”).

Trump said cybersecurity would be a “major priority” for his administration, and notably discussed the threats of state-sponsored cyber attacks from countries like Russia and China.

Hillary Clinton’s only experience in cybersecurity, he said, was her “illegal scheme” to use a private email server -- a subject that only briefly surfaced last week. The FBI and Justice Department decided against bringing any criminal charges over Clinton’s email practices.

“The fact that a former senator and secretary of State claimed not to know what the letter “C” means is just one more example of why she is totally unfit to hold the office of president,” Trump said. He was referring to Clinton’s explanation to federal investigators that she did not understand that when the letter “C” in parentheses appears in front of a paragraph, it indicates that the information is confidential, even if there is no header at the top of the document marking it as classified. (Trump has also confused what the “C” means).

Eventually Trump turned to questions, most on topics that he has already focused on throughout his campaign and others that could come up on Sunday.

Asked how he would defeat “radical Islam” as president, Trump began by attacking President Obama for refusing to use that terminology and for too often telegraphing U.S. military maneuvers.

“Wouldn’t it be better if we were going to go after Mosul to not say anything and do it?” he asked, referring to a planned offensive by Iraqi forces supported by the United States.

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Pope Francis has advice, but no endorsement, for U.S. voters

(Associated Press)

No, Pope Francis will not be making an endorsement in the U.S. presidential race.

But the leader of the Roman Catholic Church offered this advice to American faithful: “Study the proposals well, pray, and choose in conscience.”

The pope struck a more reserved tone in remarks this weekend than he has in the past. In February, when asked about Trump’s signature campaign pledge, Francis said that a person who “only thinks about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian.”

Trump quickly fired back, calling it “disgraceful” for a religious leader to question his faith. And he warned that if Islamic State attacked the Vatican, the pope “would have only wished and prayed” that he were president.

Catholic voters have often been a swing vote in presidential elections. A Pew Research Center survey in June showed Hillary Clinton with a 17-point lead among Catholics powered by an overwhelming advantage with Latino Catholics. Their poll at a similar point in the 2012 election showed President Obama and Mitt Romney statistically tied.

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Former ‘Apprentice’ cast and crew members describe sexist behavior by Donald Trump

(Andrew H. Walker / AFP/Getty)

“The Apprentice” is arguably a bigger part of Donald Trump’s rise to national prominence — and ultimately politics — than his business career.

A new Associated Press report documents a culture of misogyny and sexist behavior on the part of the Republican presidential nominee that some contestants and crew members said made them feel “uncomfortable” and “a little sick.”

The Associated Press spoke with 12 former contestants and crew members on the record and another nine on the condition of anonymity. Some reported seeing no troubling behavior, describing Trump as respectful or “extremely supportive” of female participants in the show. The campaign strenuously denied the accusations made in the piece.

But others described Trump as frequently commenting off camera about the appearance of female contestants and commenting on which he would like to sleep with.

“He was like, ‘Isn’t she hot, check her out,’ kind of gawking, something to the effect of ‘I’d like to hit that,’” Randal Pinkett, a winner of the reality show’s 2005 season, told the wire service.

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Hillary Clinton to target Wells Fargo in economic speech in Ohio

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton plans to “call out” Wells Fargo, which has faced outrage for generating fee revenue with bogus accounts, in an economic speech Tuesday in Toledo, Ohio, a campaign official said.

The bank, in a practice first uncovered by the Los Angeles Times, opened as many as 2 million accounts for customers who didn’t want them in order to meet its sales goals.

Wells Fargo has reached a $185-million settlement and was pummeled by U.S. senators during a recent hearing.

Clinton is expected to detail new policy proposals in her speech, the campaign official said, such as making it easier for consumers to bring legal action if they’re wronged by companies like Wells Fargo.

Also in Clinton’s crosshairs will be Mylan Pharmaceuticals, which increased the price of EpiPens used to treat allergic reactions, and rival candidate Donald Trump, who may not have paid federal income taxes for nearly two decades.

A previous version of this story misstated the city where Clinton will be giving her speech.

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Trump’s Washington hotel vandalized with ‘Black Lives Matter’ graffiti

An unidentified man vandalized the entrance to Donald Trump’s new Washington hotel, spray painting “Black lives Matter” near the entrance

The man also wrote “No justice, [no] peace,” with “peace” circled and slashed out.

Hotel management covered the writing with boards, but not before passersby took photos.

Police have yet to make an arrest in the matter.

On Sept. 16, Trump used the hotel as a stage for his announcement that he now believes President Obama was born in the U.S.

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Analysis: Tax troubles threaten Trump as election day nears. So does his approach to campaigning

The last weeks of a campaign are about building momentum and finishing strong. That is why the roughest week of Donald Trump‘s presidential run, one that worsened with a report that he may not have paid federal income taxes for 18 years due to a nearly billion-dollar business loss, poses a new threat to his candidacy.

The potential damage in the New York Times report, published Saturday night, was threefold. By highlighting a massive financial loss, the report reminds voters that Trump’s business record is checkered, despite his characterizations to the contrary as he vows to apply his business sense to government. It also reminds them that, when it comes to taxes, Trump has played by different rules than those governing most people — and has refused to disclose the results.

And the timing is also dangerous. The newest Trump controversy threatens to dominate the campaign precisely when he and Hillary Clinton should be crafting closing arguments to voters already casting early ballots in some states and preparing to do so in others.

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How Honduras helped vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine find his mission in life

Tim Kaine, the future U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate, works with carpentry students in El Progreso, Honduras, in 1980.
Tim Kaine, the future U.S. senator and vice presidential candidate, works with carpentry students in El Progreso, Honduras, in 1980.
(Tim Kaine)

Not long after Jesuit priest Jack Warner met a bearded, 22-year-old Midwesterner in 1980, the two Americans bonded, drawn together by the goals and questions that led them both to El Progreso, a small city not far from vast banana fields — the campos bananeros.

Warner was 35 and had arrived a year earlier to form the Teatro La Fragua, a theater company for Hondurans. As the young priest looked to forge a relationship with the campesinos, his friendship blossomed with Tim Kaine, who had taken a year off from Harvard Law School to join the Jesuit mission.

“He was 22 years old,” Warner said, “and it was the typical thing that a 22-year-old would do: What do I do with my life?”

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Their debate might not matter much, but Mike Pence and Tim Kaine would be key White House players

This year's vice presidential debate is set for Tuesday at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.
This year’s vice presidential debate is set for Tuesday at Longwood University in Farmville, Va.
(Steve Helber / Associated Press)

One man entered the national stage this summer as the reassuringly dull half of the GOP ticket. The other, the Democratic No. 2, is a career politician who proudly called himself boring.

Yet as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine prepare to face off Tuesday in their only vice presidential debate, they are vying for an office that has gained increasing clout in recent administrations.

In Pence’s case, the role could expand even more than it already has over the last 40 years, given Donald Trump’s lack of government experience. Kaine could find himself in a more complicated position, competing for influence in Hillary Clinton’s White House against her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

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