The journalists at Good Morning America have repeatedly ignored or downplayed Hillary Clinton’s multiple scandals. Co-host George Stephanopoulos even secretly donated $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation. But now with the Republican primaries effectively over and Donald Trump the presumptive nominee, the show’s reporters are focusing in on the businessman’s taxes.
An ABC graphic screamed, “New Questions About Trump’s Taxes: Billionaire Paying His Fair Share?” Investigative reporter Brian Ross alerted, “Trump’s secrecy about his finances continued to fuel his critics with his failure to produce his tax returns.” According to Ross, the candidate bought a $29 million yacht and avoided the sales tax on it.
This was a move Trump touted as a bid to keep the boat in America. Ross mocked, “But that patriotic feeling did not include paying the state sales tax on the purchase to New Jersey where the boat was docked.”
He included a clip of Hillary Clinton attacking, “You got to ask yourself, why doesn't we want to release them?” Ross continued, telling viewers, “In another case in the 1990s New York City officials said that an audit found that Trump and his partners at the Grand Hyatt hotel has shortchanged the city of $2.8 million.”
Investigations into Trump, whether they be on his questionable financial moves or his history with women, are legitimate. However, it would have been timely to tell Republican primary voters about this before Trump became the presumptive nominee. Not after.
Additionally, Stephanopoulos has an obvious conflict of interest. In January, the former Democratic operative interviewed Clinton and offered no disclaimer about his secret contributions to the Clinton foundation.
On April 4, he did it again and skipped any mention of Clinton’s e-mail scandal. On April 21, he co-hosted a GMA town hall with Clinton. The 30 minute event featured no questions about Benghazi or the e-mail controversy.
To his credit, in May of 2015, Ross investigated the Clinton foundation over questions of foreign donations. It would be refreshing if GMA followed up on this or looked at the Democratic candidate’s paid speeches to Wall Street.
A transcript of the GMA segment is below:
ABC GRAPHIC: New Questions About Trump’s Taxes: Billionaire Paying His Fair Share
ROBIN ROBERTS: Now, a closer look at Donald Trump and his taxes as he faces new calls to release his returns. ABC's Brian Ross is here with more on that. Good morning, Robin.
BRIAN ROSS: Well, good morning, Robin. Trump remains on the defensive this morning after telling George last Friday that he fights hard to pay as little tax as possible. But that his tax rates, what he pays in taxes, is nobody's business. Trump’s secrecy about his finances continued to fuel his critics with his failure to produce his tax returns.
HILLARY CLINTON: You got to ask yourself, why doesn't we want to release them?
ROSS: Going back decades, Trump has been a master of tax loopholes. When he bought this luxurious yacht, the $29 million Princess, he said he did it for the good of America.
TRUMP: I like to see the great jewels of the country being owned by the people of this country and it had a big play as to why I bought this boat.
ROSS: But that patriotic feeling did not include paying the state sales tax on the purchase to New Jersey where the boat was docked. The multi-billionaire used off-shore and out of state corporations to buy the yacht and save him a tax bill of some $1.75 million.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON (financial columnist): If there's a loophole, Donald is laser focused on it.
ROSS: The latest, a multi-million dollar tax dispute over the sprawling championship Trump national golf course he owns in New York. Trump says that the private club is worth $50 million. But now his tax lawyers claim it's really only worth $1.3 million, which would cut Trump's tax bill by 90 percent. Town officials are outraged.
DANA LEVENBERG (Town supervisor, Ossining, NY): Trump said he represents the little guy. But the little guy is going to have to pay his taxes here in Ossining if he’s not going to pay his fair share.
ROSS: In at least two cases Trump came official scrutiny. A 1986 investigation into the high-end Bvlgari jewelry store on 5th Avenue reportedly linked Trump and other wealthy New Yorkers to a scheme to avoid sales tax. In Trump’s case, involving a $65 piece of jewelry.
JOHNSTON: The tax scam is that a jeweler sends an empty box out of state. If you actually live out of state, you have to pay the tax. But Donald Trump lived across the street from the jeweler. There's no way that he didn't know that this was improper conduct.
ROSS: In another case in the 1990s New York City officials said that an audit found that Trump and his partners at the Grand Hyatt hotel has shortchanged the city of $2.8 million.
KAREN BURSTEIN (former NYC auditor general): It was an example of extraordinary flim flamery.
ROSS: Auditors found Trump in this letter he signed, formally authorized that hugely understated the hotel’s profits to lower what was owed the city in rental fees.
BURSTEIN: Sneaky? Oh, it was very sneaky. He cheated the city of a substantial sum of money.
ROSS: The hotel disputed that audit. And despite the letter that Trump signed about the accounting changes, said that Trump had no management role. In a statement to ABC News Trump said, “The allegations raised in our story, including the account raised in Westchester County, are decades-old and not worthy of a response.” Robin?