Trump lost over $1 billion in 10 years: New York Times

The newspaper said it obtained copies of Trump's tax records from 1985 to 1994, which show "a tumultuous decade of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse."
5:32 | 05/08/19

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Transcript for Trump lost over $1 billion in 10 years: New York Times
We turn to that bombshell report from "The New York Times" over president trump's finances. It's an investigation drawing on official irs documents that show he reported more than a billion dollar in losses and paid no federal income tax in eight of ten years and Cecilia Vega has the details. Good morning, Cecilia. Reporter: Hi, George. Good morning to you. We've never seen these documents before because always know president trump has refused to release any of his tax returns unlike any other president in recent decades but this new report is raising some pretty serious questions this morning about one of the principal claims that helped propel Donald Trump into the white house that he is a master dealmaker. I'm really rich. I'll say that. Reporter: Time and time again Donald Trump has billed himself as the ultimate dealmaker just as he did on ABC back in 1994. I was at the highest of all pedestals, the hottest in the country, the highest point, everything I touched turned to gold immediately. Everything I did turned to gold and life started getting boring. Reporter: Even as his famous "Art of the deal" became a best-seller, the empire at the time was deep in the red. The paper obtaining a decade worth of trump tax records from 1985 to 1994. The most detailed look so far at the president's taxes which he has refused to make public defying tradition. While I'm under audit, I won't do it. Reporter: "The times" says it shows a tumultuous decade of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse during which Mr. Trump ran up a billion dollar in losses on businesses like his taj Mahal casino and a failed airline and that's not all. According to "The times," in multiple years Mr. Trump seems to have lost more money than nearly any other individual taxpayer in the country and the paper says because of those staggering losses, he paid no federal income taxes for eight of those ten years. Turned out I'm much richer than anybody thought. Reporter: A lawyer for the president telling ABC news the tax information obtained by "The New York Times" is demonstrably false and calls the paper's statements about the president's taxes and businesses highly inaccurate. So these records do not cover the years that are now at the center of this major showdown between the white house and congress. Or congressional Democrats this week the president's team refused to release returns for those years saying there is no legislative purpose in doing so but, George, this is a fight that could go all the way to the supreme court. Cecilia, thanks very much. We're joined by Russ Buettner. He's already out on Twitter. Basically he's saying it happened all the time in the '80s and '90s, always wanted to show losses for tax purposes and renegotiate. It was sport he said and he goes on to say it's fake news. Your response? It's true that real estate developers have tremendous advantages in the tax code in terms of depreciation where you split out the cost of a building over a number of years but that accounts for a very small portion of what we're talking about. You can't get paper losses of $250 million from depreciation. It doesn't happen. These were massive failures and they were out of proportion with anything else that was being reported to the irs. They're also saying these irs transcript, the lawyers are saying are notoriously according to them inaccurate and suggesting they will sue you and "The New York Times." They suggested that several times. These are -- it's a database the irs has created since the 1960s. Every year they use it to figure out who they'll audit and pronounce from this two audits to refer to. There are internal checks on it to make sure it's accurate and numbers add up. When you look at this ten-year time period what's your big takeaway on Donald Trump's business and finances over those ten years. First that it was just kind of crazy. That there's not -- there's not a straight line through any of it. He tries one thing for a little while. That doesn't work. He tries something else. He goes from trading stocks to opening casinos to opening airlines and everything that he does, he spends too much money buying it and can never generate the income to support it so you see the red ink growing every year. How did he survive. That's an amazing thing. First he had enormous benefits by birth. His father was enormously wealthy and transferred millions of dollars to him throughout the course of his life and career. That helped a lot and helped him to keep living within his means and also a lot of these losses were other people's money. Had bond investors he didn't pay. He had banks that he didn't pay. He was able to get them to take less and then got out of the taxes. You had this other report in 2016 which showed in 1995 his tax return showed about $900 million in losses. You put that together with this piece and it suggests that the president didn't pay federal income taxes for the better part of two decades. That was certainly likely. By the time he gets to 1995, you're right. He hasn't paid taxes in eight of the last ten years and has a billion dollar essentially gift card to the irs. He can earn another billion dollars over pretty much the next 18 years and not pay any income tax on that. What's the biggest mystery left. The biggest mystery left is this huge interest income he reported in 1989. It was $50 million. There were auditors that were all over his books at the time, public reports that said he had between 2 and $100 million to invest. You can't get $50 million in interest from that so that's the big mystery. Thanks for coming in.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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