Trump coy on releasing tax returns

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WASHINGTON: Billionaire Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump said Sunday he tries to pay as little tax as possible, and kept Americans in suspense as to whether he will release his tax returns.

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That disclosure is a staple for American presidential candidates. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton did so on Friday, making public the returns of her and husband Bill for the past seven years. Over the years the duo have released their tax returns going back to the 1970s.

Trump, the brash, trash-talking real estate mogul leading the crowded pack of Republican hopefuls as they prepare for their first debate this week, did the rounds of US morning talk shows again Sunday. He was on three of them.

Among other things, he said President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, has done little for blacks in America.

“I thought he would do a fabulous job for the African-American citizens of this country. He has done nothing. They are worse now than just about ever,” Trump said on ABC’s “This Week”.

On national security, when asked if he would bring back the practice of interrogating terror suspects with waterboarding, Trump said he is sure the torture technique works.

“When you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn’t sound very severe,” added Trump.

On money and taxes, Trump said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that as a businessman, and like every other American, he tries to pay as little as possible.

Another reason is that “I hate the way our government spends our taxes. I hate the way they waste our money.”

Trump, who has said he is worth more than $10 billion, told CBS he has “no major problem” with disclosing his tax returns.

He added, though, “I may tie them to a release of Hillary’s emails.”

This was an allusion to Clinton’s use of a private server and email account while she was serving as secretary of state under Obama.

Clinton has turned over 55,000 pages of emails, which the government has now started to study and release, at least those not considered confidential.

A new poll again showed the power of Trump at this point in the campaign for next year’s presidential election.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey said he is the first choice among 19 percent of Republicans polled, followed by Wisconsin governor Scott Walker with 15 percent, and former Florida governor Jeb Bush at 14 percent. But the poll had a margin of error of six percentage points.

Trump will almost certainly be the center of attention of at Thursday’s televised debate among the top 10 Republican hopefuls in Cleveland, Ohio. A total of 17 are running for the nomination.

Some of Trump’s adversaries say he is a mere flash in the pan and will not last.

Trump was coy when asked if he would run as an independent if he does not do well in the party primaries. Such a breakaway candidacy would presumably draw votes away from the Republicans and pose a nightmare for them.

“If I’m treated fairly by the Republican Party, I would have no interest in doing that,” he told ABC.

“If I’m not treated fairly by the Republican Party, I very well might consider that. And I would certainly not give that up.”AFP

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