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Trump Has Tested Positive for Coronavirus But Negative for Cash

Trump Has Tested Positive for Coronavirus But Negative for Cash

Are you old enough to remember when Donald Trump’s tax and financial predicaments — and not when he last tested negative for the coronavirus — generated the banner headlines? It was just last week that the New York Times reported that the president of the United States paid just $750 in federal income taxes during his first year in office. With that report, the Times also promised there was more to come.

Today, another piece of Trump’s financial puzzle was revealed as the Times reported that the president’s tax records “expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments during his 2016 campaign.” The money, which he desperately needed to fund his campaign, was paid out in cash to Trump and “routed through a company called Trump Las Vegas Sales and Marketing that had little previous income, no clear business purpose and no employees.”

It came from what experts describe as highly unusual one-off payments from the Las Vegas hotel he owns with his friend the casino mogul Phil Ruffin. According to the report, Trump could not convince wealthy Republican donors to back him and he had been turned down for a loan by Deutsche Bank in early 2016, at the time one of his most reliable lenders.

Why are the 2016 payments an issue today? As the Times writes:

“Experts in tax and campaign-finance law consulted by The Times said that while more information was needed to assess the legitimacy of the payments, they could be legally problematic.

“’Why all of a sudden does this company have more than $20 million in fees that haven’t been there before?’ said Daniel Shaviro, a professor of taxation at the New York University School of Law. ‘And all of this money is going to a man who just happens to be running for president and might not have a lot of cash on hand?’

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“Unless the payments were for actual business expenses, he said, claiming a tax deduction for them would be illegal. If they were not legitimate and were also used to fund Mr. Trump’s presidential run, they could be considered illegal campaign contributions.”

The Trump campaign cash crunch seems to be repeating itself right now. Even though he had raised $1 billion for his 2020 reelection bid, it’s been reported that he’s blown through $800 million of that sum. Trump has recently canceled much of his planned spending on TV ads in several Midwest and other battleground states.

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