Reports of Trump's secret Chinese bank account spark controversy

There's a lot to unpack in the new reporting, but it's probably worth dwelling on Trump's previously undisclosed bank account in China.
US-CHINA-SECURITY-TRADE-SUMMIT
President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Fla., on April 7, 2017.Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images file

About a month ago, the New York Times reported on two decades' worth of Donald Trump's tax materials, and the revelations were pretty brutal. The public learned, for example, that the Republican paid only $750 in federal income taxes in each of his first two years in office, and didn't pay any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, largely as a result of his many private-sector losses.

But even as the report was published, the Times made clear that the records the newspaper obtained were extensive, and additional reporting on the president's controversial finances would soon follow. Evidently, the Times wasn't kidding, as its latest reporting on Trump's China ties makes clear.

President Trump and his allies have tried to paint the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son's business dealings there.... But Mr. Trump's own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state.

There's a lot to unpack in the new reporting, which is well worth your time, but it's tough not to dwell on the American president's previously undisclosed bank account in China.

As Rachel explained on last night's show, the account belongs to a Trump business entity called Trump International Hotels Management, which was generating a few million dollars in annual income -- that is, until Trump became president of the United States.

At that point, the company suddenly took in $17.5 million -- more revenue than had come into that company in the previous five years combined.

Where'd all of this money come from? That's still unclear, but we know where a lot of that money went: after the company suddenly received an influx, just as he took office, Trump withdrew $15.1 for himself.

And while there are other important revelations in the reporting, it's worth appreciating the larger political context: much of Trump's 2020 pitch to the electorate is predicated on the idea that Joe Biden is somehow tied to Beijing in nefarious ways.

There's little to suggest those ties exist in reality, but there now appears to be quite a few meaningful -- and lucrative -- connections between China and the Republican incumbent himself.