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Surrogates Say Donald Trump Is a ‘Genius’ If He Didn’t Pay Income Tax

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Updated: | Originally published: ;

Donald Trump surrogates took to the Sunday morning talk shows to insist that the businessman possibly not paying federal income taxes for almost 20 years would have been both brilliant and responsible.

Less than 24 hours after the New York Times reported on Trump’s partial tax return from 1995, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani both defended the Republican presidential nominee’s use of the tax code. The document showed Trump had claimed losses of $916 million from his casinos in Atlantic City, New York’s Plaza Hotel and an airline — losses that could offset future taxes owed, under Internal Revenue Service guidelines, according to the Times.

“There’s no one who’s shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code,” Christie said on Fox News Sunday, reports Politico.

On CNN’s State of the Union, Giuliani agreed with him: “The headline should have been, ‘Donald Trump takes advantage of legal provisions in tax code.”

In fact, both blamed any of Trump’s interactions with the tax code on the tax code itself. Christie went as far as to suggest that Trump’s behavior illuminates the “mess” that the tax code is right now, and Trump’s experience with that mess means he is the “person best positioned” to clean it up.

And if the billionaire did avoid giving the country money in the form of federal tax income that Americans with taxable income generally have to pay, Giuliani added that he did so out of duty.

“This is a perfectly legal application of the tax code,” Giuliani told This Week on ABC. “And he would’ve been fool not to take advantage of it. Not only that, he would’ve probably breached his fiduciary duty to his investors, to his business.”


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Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com