September 28, 2020

President Trump paid no income tax in 11 of the 18 years from 2000 to 1018, The New York Times reported late Sunday, citing copies of tax records it had legally obtained from unidentified sources, but he did pay $750 in both 2016 and 2017.

But he did report paying taxes on a number of his overseas ventures, which brought in $73 million in revenue (not profit) in his first two years in the White House, the Times reports. But "in 2017, the president's $750 contribution to the operations of the U.S. government was dwarfed by the $15,598 he or his companies paid in Panama, the $145,400 in India and the $156,824 in the Philippines."

A Trump organization lawyer pointed out to the Times that Trump did pay more in federal taxes — likely meaning Social Security and Medicare contributions and taxes for his household employees. And the Times notes that Trump "paid substantial federal income taxes for the first time in his life," $70.1 million, from 2005 to 2007, when the tax-reducing power of nearly a billion in 1995 losses dried up and he started earning serious money from The Apprentice and related licensing deals — but he recouped most of that money, plus interest, starting in 2010 by taking advantage of an obscure provision of a bill passed after the 2008 financial meltdown.

The $72.9 million tax refund Trump eventually secured has been under scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service and the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation since 2011, and if the audit finds he cheated — the Times suggests that's at least possible — he could owe the U.S. government more than $100 million.

Trump's foreign business entanglements also pose a long list of potential conflicts of interest, both foreign and domestic, and Turkey has been particularly aggressive in wielding its leverage, the Times reports. The good news for Trump is that the records the Times obtained don't "reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia." Read more (in depth or in brief) at The New York Times. Peter Weber

5:25 p.m.

Keith Raniere was sentenced Tuesday to 120 years in prison after being convicted of running a sex trafficking cult called NXIVM.

Raniere founded and ran NXIVM, which he branded as a self-improvement business. But prosecutors say it was a front for Raniere to traffic women and girls and mentally, physically, and sexually abuse them. Raniere's victims gave harrowing victim statements during his trial, detailing how they were blackmailed and otherwise prevented from leaving the cult, some for more than a decade.

Raniere was convicted a year ago on charges of federal sex trafficking and child pornography. He acknowledged wrongdoing within NXIVM, but maintained his innocence even in recent interviews ahead of his sentencing. Other NXIVM members have pleaded guilty to charges related to the cult. NXIVM gained notoriety as the subject of the HBO docuseries The Vow. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:02 p.m.

Guess who's back?

Apple TV+ on Tuesday announced it has signed a deal with comedian Jon Stewart for multiple seasons of a new current affairs show. This will be Stewart's return to television over five years after his departure from The Daily Show, the streamer noted in a statement. Apple TV+ also said Stewart has signed a first-look deal with the company for "projects to be produced and developed for the service."

Stewart's new show was described as a "one-hour, single-issue series" that will "explore topics that are currently part of the national conversation and his advocacy work," and each season will be accompanied by a companion podcast. Since he left The Daily Show, Stewart has been particularly vocal in advocating for 9/11 first responders. Trevor Noah took over as host of The Daily Show in 2015.

Though this new show will mark Stewart's television return, the comedian earlier this year directed the political comedy Irresistible starring Steve Carell. Speaking in an interview with The New York Times in June about whether he wishes he still had his own show, Stewart said, "Sometimes I do. But not the one that I had. The one that I had is in wonderful hands and continues to elevate in a way that I couldn’t have. My efficacy for that kind of conversation has passed." Brendan Morrow

4:52 p.m.

President Trump's obsession with 60 Minutes has lasted far longer.

Last week, Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) all sat with 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl for interviews ahead of the upcoming election. But Trump didn't exactly stay for long, walking out in the middle of the interview and then complaining about it for days on end.

Trump has since spent the past few days repeatedly attacking Stahl, including at his Tuesday rally in Michigan. Echoing his offensive remark to Megyn Kelly five years ago, Trump declared Stahl had "fire coming out of her eyes" when she asked Trump if he was "ready for some tough questions."

Trump's comments came after TMZ reported CBS had hired a security detail for Stahl after she received a death threat. Someone reportedly called one of Stahl's family members and threatened Stahl and her family shortly before Trump shared the 60 Minutes interview. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:10 p.m.

One week out from Election Day, President Trump's campaign is reportedly pulling advertising out of Florida.

The president's re-election campaign has "all but pulled its advertising" out of the crucial state that he carried in 2016, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. The campaign reportedly canceled $5.5 million in ad spending in Florida during the final two weeks of the 2020 campaign and is now focusing on four states: Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh in a call with reporters on Tuesday predicted that Florida, where Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have been roughly tied in polls, is "going to go the president's way," citing his "ground game" in the state.

Trump's campaign reportedly does still have about $350,000 in advertising spending budgeted for Florida through Election Day, but Bloomberg notes that the president "has cut $24 million from his national ad budget" since Labor Day, whereas Biden "has added $197 million." Read more at Bloomberg.

Update: The Trump campaign in a new statement is disputing Bloomberg's reporting as "horribly wrong," saying that "our ad buying week by week in the state has been consistent, and the reporting on this issue demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of how ad buying works." Brendan Morrow

3:11 p.m.

President Trump's receipts from his own properties keep piling up — but he's not the one paying the bill.

The U.S. government and Trump's supporters have paid at least a combined $8.1 million to Trump's properties throughout his presidency, documents and public records obtained by The Washington Post have so far revealed. Those payments covered everything from rooms for Secret Service agents, to a variety of candles, to even the $3 water Trump and Japan's former prime minister Shinzo Abe sipped at a summit in 2018.

Trump has visited his properties around the world more than 280 times since his inauguration, bringing Secret Service protection and often his family and foreign leaders along with him. During the summit with Abe at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's aides stayed in a $2,600-night house owned by the Trump Organization, records show. When Trump met with Xi Jinping of China, the club charged the government $7,700 for Trump and Xi's dinner. And when Abe returned a year later, taxpayers covered $6,000 worth of floral arrangements for the occasion. Trump's Christmas visit to the club — no foreign visits included — resulted in a $32,400 charge for the Secret Service's guest rooms, the Post reports.

And by holding government-funded events at his properties, Trump has turned them into "magnets for GOP events, including glitzy fundraisers for his own reelection campaign," the Post writes. Trump's campaign and fundraising committee have so far spent $5.6 million at Trump properties, "turning campaign donations into private revenue" even as his campaign war chest ran dry, the Post continues. It all flies in the face of Trump's insistence that he's losing money by serving as president.

"Any suggestion that the president has used his own official travel or the federal government as a way to profit off of taxpayers is an absolute disgrace and lie," White House spokesperson Judd Deere said. Read more at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:53 p.m.

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's critics are perplexed by his concurring opinion following the court's 5-3 ruling that Wisconsin can only count absentee ballots that arrive by Election Day, describing his reasoning as "sloppy."

One of the accusations hurled at Kavanaugh is that he confused receipt and submission deadlines while making his point. The Wisconsin case involved extending the former in light of U.S. Postal Service slowdowns, but Kavanaugh's analogies appeared more congruent with the latter.

Kavanaugh was also criticized for his stance that the deadline should remain intact so that the "apparent winner" on the morning after election night doesn't have their victory overturned by late-arriving ballots, which could spark allegations of a "rigged election." In response, observers argued that declaring an election winner on Nov. 3 isn't necessary and that it's reasonable for close races in states to remain uncalled.

Finally, analysts called Kavanaugh out for apparently misreading a source that influenced his decision. Tim O'Donnell

2:16 p.m.

Netflix is drafting Jaden Michael to star as Colin Kaepernick in a new series.

The streaming service on Tuesday revealed that Michael has been cast as Kaepernick in Colin in Black & White, the upcoming limited drama series about the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback from Ava DuVernay, Variety reports. The young actor has starred in shows like The Get Down and movies like Vampires vs. The Bronx and Wonderstruck.

Netflix previously announced that DuVernay was working on this six-episode drama series, which according to The Hollywood Reporter will "examine Kaepernick's adolescent life, focusing on his high school years and the acts and experiences that led him to become the activist he is today."

Kaepernick, who will narrate the show and also produce it, has said the series will "explore the racial conflicts I faced as an adopted Black man in a white community." He wrote on Tuesday that he "never thought I would be casting a young me in a show about my life" but that he "can't wait for the world to see" Michael "be an all-star." Brendan Morrow

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