House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday called a report that President Donald Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due in the next few years a “national security issue” and argued it raises questions about whether foreign nations or individuals could have “leverage” over the president.
Trump has refused to disclose his tax documents, but The New York Times reported on Sunday that that financial documents seen by the newspaper show he is personally responsible for repaying the loans.
In an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, Pelosi, a Democrat, expressed concern about the impact that might have had on policy and on relations with nations like Russia.
“This president appears to have over $400 million in debt. To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question,” Pelosi said.
“We take an oath to protect and defend. This president is commander in chief. He has exposure to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, to whom? The public has a right to know,” she continued.
The New York Times obtained two decades of Trump's tax information, reporting that the president paid only $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency, and again during his first year in office.
The Times reported that Trump has not paid any income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, mostly because he reported significant losses, and that Trump is facing a decadeslong Internal Revenue Service audit over a $72.9 million tax refund he received that could end up costing him more than $100 million.
The Times also reported that Trump has more than $400 million in loans coming due within the next few years that he is personally responsible for repaying.
The tax documents cover more than two decades, including some of his time as president, but they do not include his returns from 2018 and 2019. NBC News has not seen or verified any of the documents reported by The Times.
Trump dismissed the report as "fake" and his company said that the president had paid millions in "personal" taxes. Neither Trump nor his company would provide different tax payment totals to contradict The Times reporting.
Without providing any evidence, Pelosi pointed specifically to Russia as a country she felt could be involved. She cited numerous policy and messaging items the Trump administration has pushed over the last several years that have been favorable to Russia.
“The question is what does Putin have on the president politically, personally, financially in every way that the president would try to undermine our commitment to NATO, give away the store to Russia and Syria, try to cast blame on Ukraine for interfering in our elections when he knows full well with the consensus from the intelligence community that it is Russia. The list goes on and on. The annexation in the Crimea, and the rest of that that the president just turns away from,” Pelosi said. “So, he says he likes Putin and Putin likes him. Well, what's the connection? We'll see.”
“But the fact is whatever that leads to, the fact is over $400 million in leverage that somebody has over the president of the United States,” she added.
Speaking to MSNBC's Kay Tur on Monday, Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen said people should be concerned not just with who Trump owes but also how he'll repay the loans.
"Trump has over $420 million in outstanding loans that are coming due,” Cohen said. “Now, in the event, there is a potential tax liability for the time period that they’re talking about, I mean, it could be hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. If you add those together, I mean, he’s very realistically facing a potential bankruptcy where people are concerned about in terms of your previous guest about foreign influence. I mean, the more likely scenario that I see is that he’ll find some corrupt foreign entity to help him out of the situation."
Pelosi also addressed a letter she wrote to her fellow House Democrats, urging them to flip House state delegations to Democratic majorities in preparation for the possibility that the 2020 election could be decided, per the U.S. Constitution, by those delegations.
If neither Joe Biden nor Trump were to win a majority of Electoral College votes, the winner of the election would be decided by the majority of state House delegations. In that scenario, each state gets one vote based on its House delegation majority. Currently, Republicans hold a majority.
”I’ve been working on almost every scheme he might have to steal the election,” Pelosi said. “Anything we do to increase our number in the House of state delegations or members of Congress, wherever they are, will help us hold the House, enlarge our size, win the Senate and elect Joe Biden president of the United States on Election Day, or the few days that it takes to count thereafter."