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Trump tax bombshell, CDC director raises alarm bells and the first big debate

President Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and the following year, according to a New York Times report.
President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House Sept. 27, 2020.
President Donald Trump called the New York Times report on decades of his taxes "totally fake news" and said it was "made up" during a White House briefing on Sunday. Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

After Donald Trump for years refused to publicly release his tax returns, an explosive report on the president's taxes has emerged a day before the first presidential debate.

Here's what we're watching this Monday morning.

Trump avoided paying taxes for years, NYT reports. He calls it 'fake news.'

President Donald Trump paid only $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency and again during his first year in office, according to a bombshell report in the New York Times Sunday.

The Times, which obtained two decades of the president's tax information, reported that Trump did not pay any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, mostly because he reported losing much more money than he made. It also reported that Trump is facing a decadelong Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could end up costing him more than $100 million.

Trump also has more than $300 million in loans coming due within the next few years that he is personally responsible for repaying, according to the Times reporting.

NBC News has not seen or verified any of the documents reported by The Times.

Trump said Sunday that the story was "totally fake news" and "made up."

He once again pledged to make his taxes public after the completion of an IRS audit, which he has said is the reason for not releasing the information.

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'Everything he says is false': CDC director raises alarm bells over Trump's new coronavirus task force adviser

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has grown increasingly concerned that Trump, pushed by a new member of his coronavirus task force, is sharing incorrect information about the pandemic with the public.

Dr. Robert Redfield, who leads the CDC, suggested in a conversation with a colleague Friday that Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading data about a range of issues, including questioning the efficacy of masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus and the potential benefits of herd immunity.

"Everything he says is false," Redfield said during a phone call made in public on a commercial airline and overheard by NBC News.

Redfield acknowledged after the flight from Atlanta to Washington, D.C., that he was speaking about Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious diseases or public health. Atlas was brought on to the White House task force in August.

Meantime, medical experts fear that a second surge of Covid-19 this fall and winter could turn cracks in the hospital system into "earthquakes."

'The clash': Trump, Biden bring very different skills to first debate, experts say

As Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden head into Tuesday night's first presidential debate, communications experts told NBC News both bring wildly different skills to the stage that they can use to their advantage — or peril.

Trump is "a performer. He's full of energy," said Susan Millsap, a communications professor at Ohio's Otterbein University. "Biden is much more of a planned and conscientious type of debater. When you have those two things together, the clash is going to be there. The real test is going to be who pulls the other one off their game."

For months, team Trump have attacked Biden's mental acumen, setting the bar exceptionally low for the former senator in the minds of many voters.

Now, with the presidential debates imminent, the Trump campaign has reversed course. In recent days, aides and advisers have been publicly and privately trying to set the stage for a debate between a president who has done relatively little to prepare and a skilled debater with decades of experience.

Tuesday's 90-minute debate will give Biden a chance to thwart Trump's attacks on his mental fitness. Or fall prey to them.

Trump has made his Supreme Court pick, now the battle for her confirmation is on

Now that Trump has officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, the battle over her confirmation is set to begin.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham has set an aggressive timeline for Barrett's confirmation hearings, saying they will begin on Oct. 12, less than one month before the Nov. 3 election.

On Sunday, Democrats lamented Barrett's nomination, saying it could be a death knell for the Affordable Care Act, but suggested that there was little they could do to halt the confirmation process.

Speaking on ABC News' "This Week," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Democrats "can slow it down perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at the most, but we can't stop the outcome."

So who is Barrett? Check out a profile of the Notre Dame law school grad and former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by NBC News' chief justice correspondent Pete Williams.

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THINK about it

Not all Americans are created equal. Robert Kraft and Breonna Taylor show why, former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade writes in an opinion piece.


Fall survival guide: Covid-19 safety advice, parenting tips, recipe ideas and more.


After months of delays, Amazon has announced Prime Day 2020’s official dates. Here's what to do know about the retailer's largest sale of the year.

One fun thing

Even after decades in Hollywood, John Cusack still gets asked about the same iconic movies — including some cult favorites.

"It's weird, it's like having your yearbook pictures on cable all the time," Cusack said, laughing, during a wide-ranging interview on Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist.

The actor talked about his current role as Dr. Kevin Christie in the Amazon series "Utopia" and his off-screen role as an activist for progressive politicians and policies.

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Thanks, Petra