'What is the leverage they have?': Pelosi says Trump taxes a 'national security' matter

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the New York Times report on President Trump’s tax returns comes with broad national security implications.

The California Democrat wondered whether foreign governments might have “leverage” on Trump during an interview with NBC News on Monday as the president has hundreds of millions of dollars in loans coming due in the next few years.

“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt. To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So, for me, this is a national security question,” Pelosi said. “We take an oath to protect and defend. This president is commander in chief. He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to whom? The public has a right to know.”

The New York Times cited financial documents that it obtained, and it reported that Trump only paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. Trump also reportedly paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, “largely because he reported losing much more money than he made.” Details of returns from 2018 and 2019 were not included in the original report.

Trump immediately derided the reporting as “fake news” but did not offer up proof to back up claims that the story was untrue. He has consistently pushed back on revealing details about his tax returns because he is under audit by the Internal Revenue Service.

“Actually, I pay taxes. You will see that as soon as my tax returns, it’s under audit,” Trump said. “It’s been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. They treat me like the Tea Party, like they treated the Tea Party. And they don’t treat me well. They treat me very badly.”

Pelosi raised questions, without supporting evidence, that Russia might be involved in Trump’s financial situation and insinuated that Russian President Vladimir Putin might have leverage over the president. She also highlighted a number of Trump’s policy moves that she said favored Russia.

“So, he says he likes Putin and Putin likes him. Well, what’s the connection? We’ll see,” the speaker said.

Joe Biden’s campaign, which has long called on Trump to release his tax returns, seized on the New York Times report and began selling “I Paid More in Taxes Than Donald Trump” stickers on its website.

“I think it contributes to this larger sense that we have from Donald Trump that he looks down on working people,” Biden deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield said of the report on Sunday.

Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh characterized the New York Times report as “a big nothingburger and a pre-debate attack intended solely to help Joe Biden.”

“It ought to be reported as an in-kind contribution to the Biden campaign,” he said in a Monday statement.

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