US President Donald Trump gestures during a press conference at the White House, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Washington. (The Associated Press)
Washington – Revelations that President Donald Trump is personally responsible for a debt of more than $ 400 million cast a shadow over his presidency that, according to ethics experts, raises concerns that the president could be manipulated by organizations and individuals to whom it owes to alter its policies.
The new scrutiny on Trump, who boasts of being a successful private businessman, comes after the The New York Times reported that tax records revealed that the president has enormous personal debt, which includes more than $ 300 million in loans that he must cover over the next four years.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was blunt about the possible implications. “You could be left vulnerable to financial blackmail by hostile foreign powers and God only knows what else,” said Warren, a frequent critic of Trump.
The newspaper noted that tax records also show that Trump did not pay federal taxes in 11 years between 2000 and 2018, raising questions about how fair it is for a president – who is supposedly a billionaire – to pay less taxes than most Americans.
However, the revelations about Trump's tax evasion, although they carry possible political fallout, are less concerning than the news that the president has hundreds of millions of dollars in debt that he must pay soon, ethics experts said.
“Americans should be concerned about the president's debt, because it poses a national security risk to our country,” said Donald Sherman, deputy director of the government monitoring organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “This is information that the president has actively and repeatedly tried to hide from the public.”
Trump, claiming that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was conducting an audit, has refused to comply with the precedent created after the Watergate scandal by other presidents who have disclosed their tax information, so it is unknown fully the complexity of your financial interests and the identity of those with whom you do business. He is currently fighting legal disputes with the New York Attorney General, the Manhattan district attorney and two House committees who want access to his records.
Richard Painter, who served as the White House's chief ethics counsel during George W. Bush's tenure, also noted that Trump-owned companies have filed for bankruptcy six times, raising the question: Why do Are lenders still willing to risk credit for such large amounts?
“Why are banks taking the risk on these loans?” Asked Painter. “Or did someone else take the risk of those loans for the bank to approve them?”
Trump tweeted Monday that he has “very little debt compared to asset value,” adding that he could release a financial statement detailing all property and debt.
During a presentation Monday, Trump ignored a reporter's question about when he could release such a financial statement, and the White House did not comment on when he could do so. The president said repeatedly before his election that he would publish his actual taxes, but has never done so.