WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday criticized a New York Times investigation into his and his family’s use of dubious tax schemes over the years and the origins of his own wealth, calling the article an “old, boring and often told hit piece.”
Referring to The Times as the “Failing New York Times,” Mr. Trump did not offer an outright denial of the facts in the report, such as that the money he made during his decades in real estate came from tax schemes of dubious legality, the existence of records of deception in documenting the family’s financial assets, and that the beginning of the president’s so-called self-made fortune dates back to his toddler years when, by the time he was 3 years old, Mr. Trump earned $200,000 a year in today’s dollars from his father.
Nor did Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, during a subsequent briefing with reporters. Asked to identify what in the article was incorrect, she said, “I won’t go through every line of a very boring 14,000-word story.”
Instead, she said the article demonstrated that Mr. Trump’s father believed in him. “One thing the article did get right is it showed that the president’s father actually had a great deal of confidence in him,” she said. “In fact, the president brought his father into a lot of deals and made a lot of money together.”
Mr. Trump has consistently refused to release his tax returns — although making returns public has been a common practice by every president and most presidential candidates dating back decades. That has left questions about his personal finances, business practices and taxes paid to the federal government. The 18-month Times investigation was based on reams of records and documents about the Trump family empire, though it did not unearth the president’s tax returns.
In the Twitter post, Mr. Trump singled out the notion of “time value of money,” an economic concept about how the value of one dollar today is worth more than the value of one dollar tomorrow. Among The Times’s findings was that Mr. Trump received today’s equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, far more than a $1 million loan, to be repaid with interest, that Mr. Trump has regularly cited as the one-time loan that he shrewdly used to amass his eventual wealth and success.
The Times found that the original loan from his father was a series of loans totaling $60.7 million, today’s equivalent of $140 million.
The Times report also showed how Mr. Trump and his family took part in fraudulent schemes, such as how Mr. Trump and his siblings set up fake corporations to disguise millions of dollars’ worth of gifts from their parents, in order to evade taxes.
On Monday, the president declined to comment on the article, despite several attempts over a period of weeks. A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Charles J. Harder, provided a statement with broad denials for the investigation’s findings.
“The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Mr. Harder said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”
The Times defended the reporting and findings in the article. “This is a powerful piece of investigative journalism, the result of 18 months of inquiry and a review of over 100,000 pages of records,” said Eileen Murphy, a New York Times spokeswoman. “It is accurate and fair and we stand behind it.”
Binyamin Appelbaum and Neil Irwin contributed reporting.