Campaign 2016 updates: Trump used ‘legally dubious’ maneuver to avoid reporting taxable income, according to new report

Share via

Donald Trump campaigns in Michigan on Monday. Hillary Clinton heads to the battleground state of Ohio after a weekend of new email controversies.

Trump used ‘legally dubious’ maneuver to avoid reporting taxable income, according to new report

(AFP/Getty Images)

At a time when Donald Trump’s casinos were bleeding money and he was badly in debt, the Republican presidential nominee used a “legally dubious” accounting maneuver to avoid reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in income, according to a New York Times report Monday.

In the early 1990s, Trump convinced financial backers to forgive large debts he could not repay, the paper wrote. But he avoided having to report the canceled debts as income because he gave the backers equity in his partnerships that owned the casinos, effectively writing off the income.

Trump’s attorneys advised him at the time that if he were audited, the Internal Revenue Service would not look favorably upon the tactic, the paper reported. In 2004, Congress voted to outlaw the practice. Then-Sen. Hillary Clinton was among those who voted to close the loophole.

Trump declined to comment on the report, and his spokeswoman dismissed it as “either a fundamental misunderstanding or an intentional misreading of the law.”

On the campaign trail, Trump has bragged about his ability to use tax loopholes and said his knowledge of the flaws in the tax structure made him the most capable to fix it.

But most of Trump’s claims about his taxes and income are not independently verifiable because he has refused to release his tax returns, bucking four decades of practice among presidential nominees.

Democrats have argued that his lack of transparency is because the returns contain something Trump would like to keep secret, either that he isn’t as wealthy as he claims, that he didn’t give as much to charity as he says he did, or that he has controversial overseas ties.

The sole information that has come to light about his tax history came from another report in the New York Times, which said Trump reported a $916-million loss in 1995, a deduction he could have used to legally avoid taxes for nearly two decades afterward.

Share via

Tim Kaine will give an entire campaign speech in Spanish

(Chuck Burton / Associated Press)

Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine plans to give a speech entirely in Spanish as he campaigns in Phoenix on Thursday, part of an effort by Democrats to boost Latino voting in Arizona in hopes of winning the reliably Republican state.

According to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, that’s a first for a rally in an American presidential contest.

But it’s not the first time the Virginia senator has showcased his fluency in Spanish, which he burnished as a missionary in Honduras.

In 2013, Kaine delivered his first extended speech on the floor of the Senate entirely in Spanish. It was about immigration reform. And when Clinton introduced Kaine as her running mate at a rally in Miami in July, he said they would be “compañeros de alma in this great lucha ahead,” or soul mates in this great fight ahead.

It’s notable that Kaine’s speech will be delivered in Arizona, which has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1952, with one exception. Changing demographics meant many political pundits believed it would eventually become a purple state, but the shift may be hastened by GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Democratic groups report that Latino voters in the state are intensely motivated by Trump’s rhetoric about immigration. And the Clinton campaign clearly believes it has a shot at expanding the map through Arizona – Clinton herself will campaign there Wednesday and First Lady Michelle Obama rallied supporters in Phoenix last week.

Share via

Clinton wants to motivate her supporters. So she asks them to imagine a Trump presidency

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton implored her supporters to do the unthinkable Monday night: Imagine Donald Trump was elected president.

“I’d prefer to be motivated by what we’re for and not what we’re against. But I also think it’s prudent to imagine what could happen if we don’t do our part,” the Democratic hopeful said as the sun set on her evening rally on the banks of the Ohio River in Cincinnati.

“When in the future somebody asks you, maybe your kids or your grandkids, what did you do when everything was on the line, I want you to be able to say, I voted for a better, fairer, stronger America.”

It was a dose of reality that the campaign seems to feel may be all the more necessary as Clinton’s lead in polls has shrunk as election day grows closer.

Clinton said she would never quit on her supporters, adding that whatever the barriers were, “We’re going to find a way over, under, around or through until we get it done.”

She said Trump was trying to depress Democratic voter turnout.

“You know the best way to stop him: by showing up with the biggest turnout in history,” Clinton said. “There is no doubt. If we vote, we win.”

Share via

Trump campaign tries to keep distance from Paul Manafort after reports of an FBI investigation

Paul Manafort this year.
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press))

Donald Trump’s campaign sought to distance him from his former campaign chief Paul Manafort on Monday night following reports that the FBI is looking into the ex-aide’s foreign business ties.

“Mr. Trump severed ties with Mr. Manafort many months ago. Mr. Trump has no knowledge of any of his past or present activities,” campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in an email.

NBC News reported Monday that federal investigators had begun a preliminary inquiry into Manafort’s ties to Russian interests.

Manafort, who left the campaign in August, told NBC that he was aware of no FBI investigation and denied he had ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin or other pro-Russian interests.

The report comes one day after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid alleged that FBI Director James B. Comey was concealing known connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. He accused Comey of a double standard by publicly revealing new lines of inquiry into the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

The Clinton campaign followed suit Monday, calling Comey’s actions “nothing short of jaw-dropping.”

Share via

Clinton campaign accuses Comey of double standard

Hillary Clinton’s campaign sought to deflect attention from a new email-related investigation by arguing that FBI Director James B. Comey, who made the review public, was acting hypocritically.

Comey reportedly resisted the government’s move this month to publicly accuse Russia of interfering in U.S. political affairs, citing the timing so close to an election. Then on Friday, Comey stepped into uncharted territory by disclosing the existence of a new review of emails possibly linked to Clinton’s private server.

Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon called the discrepancy “a pretty astonishing double standard.”

“We are asking that the same treatment that has been applied to Hillary Clinton be applied to Donald Trump,” Fallon told reporters on a conference call. “It was Director Comey that opened this door and broke protocol.”

Agents found the emails as they examined a computer that top Clinton aide Huma Abedin shared with her now-estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, the former congressman who is the subject of an investigation into whether he broke the law when he exchanged sexually charged messages with a 15-year-old.

The Clinton campaign seized upon a CNBC report Monday that Comey did not want the FBI’s name on a letter that the U.S. government wrote accusing Russia of interfering with the election.

Additionally, the campaign pointed to three of Trump’s allies who have controversial ties to Russia.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook described Comey’s behavior as “nothing short of jaw-dropping.”

He called on Comey to “apply the same standard to Donald Trump’s associates as he has to Hillary Clinton’s.”

Share via

GOP Sen. Charles Grassley demands additional information from FBI about new email investigation

(Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

The Republican leader of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday demanded additional information about the FBI’s new investigation of emails that may be related to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said the bureau’s vague disclosure on Friday about the new review, just 11 days before the presidential election, was unsatisfactory and unfair.

‘[Y]our disclosure did not go far enough,” Grassley wrote to FBI Director James B. Comey about Comey’s notice to congressional leaders about a new review of emails related to Clinton aide Huma Abedin. “Unfortunately, your letter failed to give Congress and the American people enough context to evaluate the significance or full meaning of this development. Without additional context, your disclosure is not fair to Congress, the American people or Secretary Clinton.”

Clinton has called on Comey to release additional information about the investigation. The emails were discovered during a separate FBI investigation of Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner, for allegedly sending sexually explicit emails to a minor.

Clinton’s use of a private server while secretary of State and her handling of classified material have been central to Republican attacks on her presidential campaign. An FBI review this year was closed when the agency found her email practices careless but not criminal. So Comey’s notification to congressional leaders Friday of a new review rocked the presidential race.

Grassley said he was sympathetic to the difficult position Comey found himself in because of the timing of the news, but he repeatedly said congressional leaders and voters deserved more information. The letter directed Comey to respond to several inquiries by Friday, including details about the newly discovered cache of emails, whether there are indications that Clinton or her aides misled Congress, and additional questions about the prior email investigation and the Clinton Foundation.

“In the absence of additional, authoritative information from the FBI in the wake of your vague disclosure, Congress and the American people are left to sift through anonymous leaks from Justice Department officials to the press of varying levels of detail, reliability and consistency,” Grassley wrote. “The American people deserve better than that.”

Share via

CNN accepts Donna Brazile’s resignation after interactions with Clinton campaign prior to debate

CNN distanced itself from interim Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Donna Brazile after supposedly hacked emails said she gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign advance word about a question for a March 6 primary debate with Bernie Sanders.

Brazile was a commentator for CNN and a vice chair at the DNC at the time. She was suspended in July when she took over the DNC chair duties.

Read More

Share via

A taco truck on every tarmac?

Share via

Hillary Clinton urges backers not to be distracted by email developments. ‘There is no case here’

(John Minchillo / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton urged voters not to be “distracted” by the FBI’s revived scrutiny of her email practices and sought to turn the focus to her Republican rival, casting Donald Trump as an untested leader who can’t be trusted with nuclear weapons.

Kicking off the final week of the presidential race with a rally at Kent State University, Clinton acknowledged that voters may be asking what “this new email story is about,” or “why in the world the FBI would decide to jump into an election with no evidence of wrongdoing with just days to go.”

“That’s a good question,” she added with a chuckle, before saying investigators “by all means” should examine thousands of emails found on a laptop computer apparently used by the husband of a top Clinton aide, Huma Abedin.

“I am sure they will reach the same conclusion they did when they looked at my emails for the last year: There is no case here,” Clinton said of the latest FBI probe.

The former secretary of State insisted, as she has in the past, that she was not making excuses for using a private email server, rather than the State Department’s email system, while in President Obama’s Cabinet.

But she noted that FBI Director James Comey, whom she did not mention by name, said in July that it “wasn’t even a close call” when he determined there were no grounds to pursue criminal charges against her.

“I think most people have decided a long time ago what they think about all of this,” Clinton said. “Now what people are focused on is choosing the next president and commander in chief of the United States of America. So in these last days, let’s not get distracted from the real choice in this election.”

Clinton vowed a week ago, when her campaign appeared on track to an easy victory at the Nov. 8 polls, that she would no longer respond to Trump’s harsh criticism of her.

On Monday, after her campaign was put on the defensive by Comey’s announcement Friday that the FBI was scrutinizing a newly found trove of emails, she launched into a scathing attack on Trump’s readiness to serve as commander-in-chief.

Clinton questioned whether Trump fully understood the consequences of casual talk about the nuclear arsenal and how many millions of people could be killed with the launch of a single weapon.

She also referred to reports of investigations into some of Trump’s business associates and their alleged ties to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

Clinton warned that Putin, a “trained intelligence officer” from his days as a Soviet-era KGB officer, viewed Trump as a potential “puppet.”

She demanded that the GOP nominee, who has refused to release his tax returns, disclose the extent of his financial ties to Russian interests.

As she highlighted her own national security experience as a U.S. senator from New York and then secretary of State in the first Obama administration, she called attention to Trump’s behavior hours after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Trump, she said, called in to a local television station to “brag” that, with the Twin Towers collapsed and thousands dead or missing, one of his own buildings was now the tallest in lower Manhattan.

“What kind of person brags at a moment like that?,” she asked. “I’ll tell you: someone who should never set foot in the Oval Office.”

Share via

White nationalist launches new pro-Trump ad in Utah targeting Evan McMullin’s mom

A white nationalist leader who has funded several ads supporting Donald Trump has a new robocall in Utah targeting Evan McMullin, the upstart who could stop a Trump victory in the Beehive State.

McMullin poses a serious threat to Trump in Utah, where voters, many of whom are Mormon, have never fully warmed to the celebrity businessman’s candidacy.

The robocall beginning Monday seeks to sway Utah’s conservative religious electorate by highlighting McMullin’s personal life; after his parents divorced, his mother married a woman.

“Evan has two mommies,” the ad says. “His mother is a lesbian, married to another woman. Evan is OK with that.”

The ads also suggest McMullin is a “closet homosexual.”

McMullin, 40, has openly discussed his family life, telling the Salt Lake Tribune that he respects his mother’s new marriage. The CIA-operative-turned-congressional-aide also spoke about his own desire to start a family.

“My greatest aspiration is to be a husband and father,” he told the paper.

“As far as my mother’s marriage is concerned, I believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage. It is an important part of my faith,” McMullin said. “My mother has a different view. That is OK. I love her very much, and she is one of my best friends.”

The ads are being self-funded by William Johnson, a Los Angeles attorney and leader of the American Freedom Party, a white nationalist organization, and a PAC that has supported Trump throughout the primary and general election campaign.

White nationalists have become energized by Trump’s candidacy, believing that he is their best opportunity to bring their supremacist views to mainstream politics.

Trump initially did not reject support from David Duke and other nationalist leaders, and his campaign has engaged with them. Ultimately, though, Trump disavowed their backing.

Trump warned over the weekend that McMullin is a “puppet” who “takes votes away from me” in Utah as the face of the “Never Trump” movement.

McMullin responded by bashing Trump on Twitter.

Share via

Obama backs the FBI director, but not necessarily his decision to go public about the newfound emails

President Obama is standing by FBI Director James B. Comey after he publicized the existence of newfound emails possibly related to Hillary Clinton’s private server just days before the election, even as prominent legal experts criticized the move as a dangerous precedent.

But the White House clearly wasn’t happy Monday with all the public discussion about an ongoing investigation, a break with decades of law enforcement practice.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he would neither criticize nor defend Comey’s decision to inform Congress that the FBI is looking into newly uncovered emails that might be relevant to its investigation of the private server Clinton used while secretary of State.

Obama has confidence in Comey’s ability to do his job, Earnest said, while making it clear that Comey will ultimately have to answer for the move.

“The president doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election,” Earnest said. “The president doesn’t believe that he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He’s in a tough spot. And he’s the one who will be in a position to defend his actions.”

Earnest noted that legal experts and former senior Justice Department officials who’d served under both Republican and Democratic administrations condemned Comey’s move.

Earnest echoed their concerns, saying that the Justice Department has expansive powers to intrude on the privacy of private citizens.

“The president believes that our democracy has been very well-served for more than two centuries by officials at the Department of Justice and FBI observing long-standing traditions that limit public discussion of investigations whether an election is around the corner or not,” Earnest said.

Share via

Donald Trump warns of a ‘constitutional crisis’ if Hillary Clinton wins

Donald Trump said Monday that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be plagued by criminal investigations, threatening to throw the country into upheaval should she be elected.

Trump pointed to the dire warnings of former Bill Clinton aide Doug Schoen, who publicly renounced the Democratic nominee this week.

“I’m now convinced that we will be facing the very real possibility of a constitutional crisis with many dimensions and deleterious consequences should Secretary Clinton win the election,” Trump quoted from an op-ed by Schoen, hastily adding that he didn’t think a Clinton victory would happen.

Trump then laid out a detailed hypothesis — echoing Schoen’s column — to the crowd of several thousand in Grand Rapids, Mich., conjuring a future marred by controversy should his Democratic rival win.

“She would be under protracted criminal investigation and probably a criminal trial, I would say. So we’d have a criminal trial of a sitting president,” he said.

He warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders would “sit back and they would laugh and they would smile” during a years-long investigation. In the meantime, he predicted, manufacturing in the country would further decline and other problems would go unaddressed.

“Our country will continue to suffer,” Trump said.

Trump has long accused Clinton of corruption, but his rhetoric has shifted lately from asserting she should face future legal trouble to contending that that she certainly would. He has used FBI Director James B. Comey’s recent disclosure that newly found emails may be pertinent to the investigation into her private email server to bolster his argument.

He pointed to the 650,000 emails discovered in an unrelated investigation into former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sending inappropriate sexual messages to an underage girl as proof there was more explosive revelations to come in the Clinton inquiry.

Most of the emails were Weiner’s, however, investigators say. Hundreds, perhaps thousands belonged to his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a top Clinton aide, one official said.

It is unclear how many of those emails involve Clinton herself, but Trump has nevertheless begun to refer to the cache as “the mother lode.”

“We can be sure what’s in those emails is absolutely devastating,” Trump said.

Trump also heaped praise onto Comey, whom he has sharply criticized in the past for declining to pursue criminal charges against Clinton.

“It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made,” Trump said, referring to Comey’s letter to key members of Congress alerting them to the existence of the new potentially relevant emails.

“I really disagreed with him. I was not his fan. But I tell you what — what he did, he brought back his reputation,” Trump said as the crowd applauded in agreement. “He’s got to hang tough.... A lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. What he did was the right thing.”

1:32 p.m.: This post was updated to reflect Trump was directly quoting from Schoen’s column.

Share via

A few people get into the Halloween spirit at Donald Trump’s Grand Rapids rally

Share via

Halloween Trumpkin and Clintkin pumpkins, anyone?

Pumpkin carvers took a creative stab at the likenesses of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for Halloween; check out these “Trumpkins” and “Clintkins.”

A Vladimir “Putkin” even made it in Dublin, Ohio, painter Jeanette Paras’s 26th annual display this year.

Share via

Which candidate’s immigration plan is better for the economy?

Immigrants arrive at New York's Ellis Island for a naturalization ceremony in September.
(John Moore / Getty Images)

Forget about tax plans and spending programs, trade deals and regulatory reform.

When it comes to influencing the speed and direction of the economy, few things will matter more than how the next president deals with the millions of immigrants in the country illegally, and just as crucially, how many new legal immigrants are allowed in each year.

“In terms of where the economy would be four years and 10 years from now, the real difference, the game changer between the two [presidential candidates] is immigration,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, a forecasting firm.

Read More

Share via

FBI email review won’t be Trump’s focus in final days, his campaign manager says

Donald Trump doesn’t plan to make an FBI review of new emails related to Hillary Clinton a central part of the campaign’s final days, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Monday.

Conway said Democrats are to blame for nominating a “serial liar” and predicted Trump would win because independents are sick of the Clintons.

“All along we’ve been asking questions about the wrong candidate,” Conway said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “They should own her. She’s unqualified, unfit and I think electing her would be a very risky choice. We don’t need this ethical stain that has been Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades now.”

On Friday, FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress that the agency will examine newfound emails that might be relevant to the investigation of Clinton’s private server and the handling of classified materials.

Share via

Former Atty. Gen. Eric Holder: Comey must ‘correct his mistake’

Eric H. Holder Jr.
Eric H. Holder Jr.
(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

FBI Director James B. Comey made a “mistake” that may set a “dangerous precedent,” former Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. wrote Monday.

In an op-ed article, Holder expressed deep concern concerning Comey’s decision to tell Congress on Friday that the FBI will examine newfound emails that might be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private server and the handling of classified materials.

Holder said the announcement violated a department policy that discourages the FBI and Justice Department from taking unnecessary actions close to election day, in order to avoid the appearance of bias.

Holder also criticized Comey’s extraordinary July news conference, when the FBI director publicly laid out the rationale behind his decision not to recommend criminal charges in the Clinton matter.

“Instead of making a private recommendation to the attorney general — consistent with Justice Department policy — he chose to publicly share his professional recommendation, as well as his personal opinions, about the case,” Holder wrote in the Washington Post. “That was a stunning breach of protocol.”

Holder called out Comey, saying he was circumventing Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch and her deputy, Sally Yates.

Holder, who served as attorney general from 2009 to 2015, said he respects Comey and knows that he “is a man of integrity and honor.” However, he said, revealing incomplete information about an ongoing investigation within two weeks of the presidential election was wrong.

“It is up to the director to correct his mistake — not for the sake of a political candidate or campaign, but in order to protect our system of justice and best serve the American people,” he wrote.

Share via

Frustration, uncertainty about the election, even at Disneyland

( (Patrick Khoo / For The Times))

When The Times’ California politics team spoke with Americans outside Disneyland recently, we found people frustrated with the election, unhappy with the candidates and ready for the election to just be over.

Few had happy or hopeful descriptions. Some had to be urged to describe it in family-friendly words.

Check out what word people at the “happiest place on Earth” used to describe the election, and send us your descriptor:

Read More

Share via

The upside for Clinton in the latest email controversy? Almost nothing has upended the 2016 race

Hillary Clinton campaigns in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday.
Hillary Clinton campaigns in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sunday.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

The late resurfacing of a controversy involving Hillary Clinton’s emails will test the one stubborn truth in this demolition derby of a presidential campaign: Almost nothing has dramatically altered for any length of time the narrow lead in polls held by the former secretary of State.

Clinton has rebounded from other missteps, just as Donald Trump bounced back from what would be, in any ordinary campaign, candidacy-ending scandals.

The reason: Voters have hardened, and mostly negative, views of both nominees and have stuck with their choice regardless of any new revelations. Bad news has eventually paled against the level of distaste for the opponent.

Read More

Share via

Deep in the heart of Texas, Trump has Republicans worried about losing a congressional seat

Voters in San Antonio. Early voting has been heavy in Texas, where the presidential election is closer than usual.
Voters in San Antonio. Early voting has been heavy in Texas, where the presidential election is closer than usual.
(Eric Gay / Associated Press)

Cars were idling bumper to bumper in the parking lot, waiting for one of 100 spots to open. A line of more than 90 people snaked through the hallway and out the doors of the branch library, swamped by Texans eager to vote early.

But Heather Neufeld, sitting nearby, was still studying her sample ballot as her two children romped on a play structure beneath a spreading live oak.

San Antonio has one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, and the 41-year-old stay-at-home mom wanted to know: What does the Republican incumbent think of his party’s presidential nominee?

“I wouldn’t want him to say ‘everything Trump stands for, I’m behind,’” said Neufeld, a conservative Republican who considers Donald Trump to be neither.

Read More

Share via

When California was a red state

California hasn’t always been a lock for the Democratic presidential nominee. Republicans won the state in nearly every presidential election between 1952 and 1988. Ahead of an election that could see more blue in the Golden State than ever before, here’s a look at how Democrats gained, lost and won back California.

Read More

Share via