Hillary Clinton forcefully — and joyfully — hammered Donald Trump over his business acumen Monday, casting the real estate mogul as a bigger bully than Wells Fargo rather than the “genius” his allies have sought to portray him as.
Clinton was noticeably jubilant as she kicked off an afternoon rally in Toledo, Ohio, after what was perhaps the worst week of her rival’s campaign.
“Y’all see the debate last Monday?” Clinton asked supporters, who were fired up by her reference to the Hofstra University debate. “Well, in the debate — in the debate,” she began, pausing as she smiled and took in the “Hillary! Hillary!” chants from the crowd.
“Well, then you all know that in the debate he said it was smart to avoid paying taxes. Yesterday, his campaign was bragging it makes him a genius,” she continued. “Here’s my question: What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a single year? This is Trump to a T. He’s taken corporate excess and made a business model out of it. He abuses his power, games the system, puts his own interests ahead of the country’s. It’s Trump first and everyone else last.”
Clinton repeatedly seized on the bombshell New York Times report that revealed that the real estate mogul lost $916 million, according to portions of his 1995 tax returns, which may have allowed him to avoid paying personal income taxes for up to 18 years.
Trump’s allies, meanwhile, have touted the Republican presidential nominee’s “genius” for using a nearly $1 billion loss to possibly avoid paying personal income taxes for nearly two decades. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani defended Trump on Sunday, with Giuliani telling ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “My response is he’s a genius. Absolute genius.”
Clinton highlighted Wells Fargo as just one example of the “egregious corporate behavior” America has seen — but suggested that even with the fraud scandal hanging over its head, it’s got nothing on Trump, whom she called the “poster boy” of “bullying small businesses.”
“Look at Wells Fargo. Really shocking, isn’t it?” Clinton said. “One of the nation’s biggest banks, bullying thousands of employees into committing fraud against unsuspecting customers, secretly opening up millions of accounts for people without their consent, even their knowledge, misusing personal information and then sticking customers with hidden fees. It is outrageous that eight years after a cowboy culture on Wall Street wrecked our economy, we are still seeing powerful bankers playing fast and loose with the law. And then in a category by himself, there’s Donald Trump.”
Clinton ripped Trump for his refusal to release his tax returns (Trump has maintained that he won’t release them while he’s under an IRS audit), telling supporters there should be a law mandating that major party presidential nominees release their returns.
“A lot of us were wondering: What is he hiding? It must be really terrible,” she said. “Well, The New York Times has discovered at least part of the answer: Back in the 1990s, Trump apparently lost a billion dollars in a single year on bad investments and failing casinos. Now, how anybody can lose a dollar, let alone a billion dollars, in the casino industry is kinda beyond me, right? It’s just hard to figure.”
“But as a result,” she continued, “it doesn’t look like he paid a dime of federal income tax for almost two decades. Now, while millions of American families, including mine and yours, were working hard, paying our fair share, it seems he was contributing nothing to our nation. Imagine that. Not fair. Nothing for Pell grants to help kids go to college. Nothing for veterans. Nothing for our military.”
Clinton also sought to undercut the self-proclaimed billionaire’s allegation that the system is rigged and only he can fix it, likening that scenario to “letting the fox guard the henhouse.” Trump, she said, “represents the same rigged system that he claims he’s gonna change.”
“After he made all those bad bets and lost all that money, he didn’t lift a finger to help and protect his employees or all the small businesses and contractors he hired or the people of Atlantic City,” Clinton said. “They all got hammered while he was busy with his accountants trying to figure out how he could keep living like a billionaire. And all the while he was using his political connections to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in government subsidies and extra tax breaks for his companies. In other words, Trump was taking from America with both hands and leaving the rest of us with the bill.”
But she didn’t stop there. She went on to say she was stunned by — “I get stunned every day in this campaign, but here’s one of the many things that I’m stunned by” — a tax plan Trump has proposed that Clinton said would cut his taxes even more.
“It would be like — you’re paying zero,” Clinton said. “You expect us to pay you to stay in business? All the rest of us in America? He’d open the loopholes even wider.”