Fairly early on during last night's presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was speculating about why Donald Trump would choose to be the first modern American presidential candidate to refuse to release his tax returns. "Maybe," she said
, "he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes."Unprompted, Trump interrupted to say, "That makes me smart."Clinton kept going, adding, "So if he's paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health."A little later, Trump talked about how the government doesn't have the necessary resources for public needs. "Maybe because you haven't paid any federal income tax for a lot of years," Clinton interjected. Trump fired back, "It would be squandered, too."The comment was striking because of it's apparent acceptance of the underlying premise. By saying his tax money would have been "squandered," Trump seemed to be conceding that Clinton's argument was correct.As TPM reported
, it's a point Clinton is eager to keep emphasizing.
Fresh off a strong performance in the first presidential debate, Hillary Clinton on Tuesday knocked Donald Trump for bragging about not paying taxes and financially benefiting from the housing crisis.Speaking to an audience at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, the former secretary of state repeated her debate-night claim that Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns may be because he had “paid nothing in federal taxes,” as was true on the few years of his returns that he made public. Trump replied on stage, "That makes me smart."“Now, if not paying taxes makes him smart, what does that make all the rest of us?” Clinton asked the crowd.
After the debate, Trump seemed eager to deny
having said what everyone had already heard him say.
Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash, “It sounds like you admitted that you hadn’t paid federal taxes and that that was smart, is that what you meant to say?” Trump didn’t try to clarify, but instead lied and said he’d never said that.“No, I didn’t say that at all,” he responded. He then went on, “If they say I didn’t, I mean it doesn’t matter,” without clarifying who “they” refers to.
The need for Trump to release his secret tax returns has never been more obvious, though no one should hold their breath.