Donald Trump's allies argued Sunday that a New York Times report revealing that Donald Trump might have avoided paying taxes for 18 years shows the Republican candidate is "genius" and the best person to implement tax reform.
"What it shows is what an absolute mess the federal tax code is and that's why Donald Trump is the person best positioned to fix it," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on "Fox News Sunday."
"There's no one who has shown more genius in their way to maneuver around the tax code and to rightfully use the laws to do that and he's already promised in his tax plan to change many of these special interest loopholes and get rid of them so you don't have this kind of situation," Christie said.
The Times published documents on Saturday that it said were Donald Trump's 1995 state income tax returns. Those documents seem to show that the Republican nominee reported a nearly $916 million loss that year.
Christie's comments echoed those of fellow Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani, who said "the reality is he's a genius" on "Meet the Press" Sunday morning.
And the Trump campaign in an official statement to NBC News on Saturday used similar reasoning:
"Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it," the campaign said.
Christie contended that the report did not show anything that was "outside the law or outside the ordinary" and showed Trump's corporate resilience.
"The early 1990s was a difficult time for lots of folks," Christie said. "We went into a recession as I know you'll recall and Donald Trump wrote the book 'The Art of the Comeback.' This is a guy when a lot of businesses went out of business in the early 1990s, he fought and clawed back to build another fortune, to create tens of thousands of more jobs, and this is actually a very, very good story for Donald Trump."
Trump's tax returns have been a subject of controversy throughout the campaign. The GOP nominee has refused to release them, citing an ongoing audit — although the IRS has said there is no legal reason preventing him from disclosing the tax records.
While an unsigned statement on the Trump campaign website did not appear to dispute any of the content of the Times report, it contended the document was "illegally obtained."
"Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required," the statement said. "That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes, along with very substantial charitable contributions."
Trump himself took to Twitter on Sunday morning to criticize the newspaper and maintain that he is the "only one" who can amend tax laws.