On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” while discussing The New York Times report on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggesting that he could have legally avoided paying federal income taxes for the last 18 years, Gov. Chris Christie (D-NJ) said “This is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump.”
Partial transcript as follows:
WALLACE: And hello again from FOX News in Washington. Donald Trump faces a new controversy today with a report in “The New York Times”, he declared a $916 million loss in his 1995 tax returns, a loss so big the paper says he could — repeat could — have avoided paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years. Meanwhile, Trump has opened a new line of attack on the Clintons’ marriage, and he continues to fan a storm of criticism over comments about a former beauty queen. In a few minutes, we’ll talk with Clinton supporter Senator Claire McCaskill, but we begin with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the head of Trump’s transition team. Governor, let’s start with this new report that Trump had a billion dollar loss in 1995 that could have meant he paid no federal income taxes for years, maybe as much as 18 years. One, what does that say about him as a businessman? And what does that say about him failing to pitch in like the rest of us to pay for our military and our roads and other services?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, first of all, Chris, what it shows is what an absolute mess the federal tax code is, and that’s why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it. There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver about the tax code as he rightfully used the laws to do that. And he’s already promised in his tax plan to change many of these special interest loopholes and get rid of them so you don’t have this kind of situation. I think the worst part, Chris, is this is a tax code that people in America suffer under every day. And so, it’s an awful thing. Second thing is on “The New York Times” report — you know, fact is that even their own tax expert, after a big splashy headline, said there was nothing in there that was outside the law or outside the ordinary. Last point I want to make on this, Chris, you know, the late 19 — the early 1990s was a difficult time for lots of folks. We went into a recession, as I know you’ll recall, and Donald Trump wrote the book “The Art of the Comeback.” This is a guy who when lots of businesses went out of business in the early 1990s, he fought and clawed back to build another fortune, to create tens of thousands of more jobs. This is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump.
WALLACE: Wait. You’re saying it’s a good story for Donald Trump that he failed to pay any federal income taxes — first of all, that he took a billion-dollar loss, and that he failed to pay any federal income taxes for years. That’s a good story?
CHRISTIE: Chris, first of all, you don’t know he didn’t pay for federal income taxes for years. All the story said was that kind of loss can be used for up to 18 years. But if Mr. Trump made $600 million the next year, $600 million, that loss would be wiped out. So, let’s be precise about what it said. “The New York Times” does not have any information in that story that says Mr. Trump did not pay taxes. Aw all they did was quote the law which says if you have that kind of loss, you can use that kind of loss to offset income for up to 18 years. What we have said is that Mr. Trump has paid millions and millions and millions of dollars in taxes, state and local taxes, property taxes, and federal income taxes over time.
WALLACE: If I may —
CHRISTIE: But, Chris, that’s not what the report says. You can’t come on TV this morning and say that Donald Trump did not pay taxes for years and years when that’s not what the story says.
WALLACE: Well, in fact, the Trump campaign issued a statement last night that was a classic nondenial denial. Here’s what he put up. He has, Trump has, a “fiduciary responsibility to pay no more tax than legally required.”
It’s in effect what he said in the first debate, if he paid no taxes, that makes him smart. I mean, I assume that if he had paid lots of taxes over those years, he’d have told us so.
CHRISTIE: Well, that’s a big assumption on your part, given that the advice he’s gotten — by the way, this proves the advice he’s gotten from his lawyers and accountants is the right advice, because if you’re talking about a tax return from 1995 and all of you in the media have been saying, why don’t you release the tax returns that aren’t under audit? Well, they’re all connected, because of he byzantine tax laws.
And the genius that Donald Trump has been, to make sure he follows the law, which is exactly what he’s done, and politically he has said that he’s going to change these laws and that there’s no one who’s better suited to change these laws than someone like him who’s been subjected to audit by the IRS year after year after year.
WALLACE: So, just to sum this up, because I want to move on to other subjects — as a top Trump adviser, as the head of his presidential transition team, your reaction to the story in “The Times” today is no apologies?
CHRISTIE: Oh, for gosh sakes. No apologies for complying with the law. And, by the way, taking a bow for the fact he’s said well before this story ever came out that we need to change the tax laws because they are harming Americans every day with their complexity and favoring people that they shouldn’t favor.
And Donald Trump has been the one person who against his own personal interests has said that he wants to change those tax laws and as president he will. That’s the kind of leadership America needs.
And one last thing, Chris, you know, about the losses — the fact is that this is a guy who rebuilt his entire business empire after the recession in the early 1990s, wrote “The Art of the Comeback.” Let me tell you, America needs a comeback, and we need somebody like Donald Trump to lead that comeback.
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