In an extensive interview, Donald Trump’s campaign manager went to bat over controversies surrounding the billionaire’s tax returns and financial disclosures, insisting that Trump is as wealthy as he says.
Corey Lewandowski told CBS’ “This Morning” on Tuesday that Trump represented the “American success story” because of the wealth he’s been able to build up through his business ventures.
But over the years, Trump’s net worth has been repeatedly called into question.
Anchor Charlie Rose asked why there have been so many discrepancies about Trump’s wealth, pointing out that Trump could resolve questions by releasing his tax returns.
“Your tax returns on a yearly basis don’t tell you what you’re worth,” Lewandowski said. “What they show is what your income is. And Mr. Trump has already showed what his income is — $557 million last year. He has a massive cash flow, he has very, very little debt, less than 2[%] or 3% of his overall net worth. He’s worth $10 billion.”
Co-host Gayle King said, however, that tax returns show not only income, but how much an individual pays in taxes and makes in charitable contributions.
Lewandowski defended Trump’s tax record.
“Here’s what he’s said about his taxes: As a businessman, to his family, to his corporation, he is going to pay the smallest amount of taxes possible, which I think the American people also understand,” he said. “Every deduction possible, he fights for every single dollar. That’s the mindset you want to bring to the government.”
Rose said “no one begrudges that.”
“It’s not the issue how much money he is deducting,” Rose said. “… The question is transparency on a man who is one of the two people most likely to become president.”
Lewandowski brought up the routine audit Trump is undergoing, which the billionaire has cited as the reason he hasn’t released his tax returns.
“This is the fault” of the Internal Revenue Service, Lewandowski said. “Have them go finish the audit. As soon as that audit is done, he’ll release his taxes.”
Co-host Norah O’Donnell asked why Trump hasn’t released earlier returns from before 2008.
“There’s nothing to see from 2002 and 2003 and 2004,” Lewandowski said. “What you guys are interested in right now is what his tax rate is. His tax rate is as low as possible.”
O’Donnell pointed out that when Mitt Romney ran for president in 2012, Trump insisted that he release his tax returns.
“Is there a concern that Mr. Trump’s tax return will show his income is in fact smaller than what he has said publicly?” O’Donnell asked.
Lewandowski said “absolutely not.” He pointed out that Romney waited until 30 days before the general election to release a summary of his taxes.
“Mitt Romney’s taxes were not under audit at the time,” Lewandowski said.
O’Donnell pressed Lewandowski, pointing out that Romney’s taxes were “incredibly revealing” because they showed that he had a lower tax rate and that he had offshore accounts.
“The difference is Mr. Trump is proud to pay a lower tax rate, the lowest tax rate possible,” Lewandowski said.
Watch the full interview below:
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