Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bragged Monday night about taking advantage of the housing market crash, an architect he once employed and America’s federal income tax laws.
Every chance she got during the first presidential debate, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton pressed Trump on his business in real estate, bankruptcy filings, employment practices and refusal to release his tax returns.
In an early heated exchange, Trump said his wishing for a housing market collapse was simply business savvy.
“Donald was one of the people who rooted for the housing crisis,” Clinton said. “He said, back in 2006, ‘Gee, I hope it does collapse because then I can go in and buy some and make some money.’”
“That’s called business, by the way,” Trump interjected.
“Nine million people lost their jobs,” Clinton continued, talking over Trump. “Five million people lost their homes, and $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out.”
Trump did hope for the collapse. Two years before the recession and fall of the housing market, he said, “I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy.”
His boasts during the debate didn’t stop there. Trump bragged he was “smart” not to pay federal income taxes for at least two years.
Clinton said the only tax returns anyone has seen for Trump were for “a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license and they showed he didn’t pay any federal income tax.”
“That makes me smart,” Trump said.
“So he paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health,” Clinton said.
Moments after the debate, while walking through the spin room, Trump lied, saying he never said not paying taxes was smart. “I didn’t say that at all,” he told CNN.
During the debate, Clinton continued to dig into Trump’s business, pointing to an architect in the audience who worked on a clubhouse at one of Trump’s golf courses and wasn’t paid by Trump.
“You wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you,” Clinton said, attacking Trump major claim that he is qualified to be president because of his history in business.
Trump didn’t deny that he didn’t pay the architect.
“Maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work, which our country should do too,” Trump quipped.
Trump has refused to release his tax returns, blaming an IRS audit. Every presidential candidate in the last nine elections has released them. Congressional Democrats have tried to press the issue, calling for a vote on legislation that would require all nominees to disclose their returns.
Trump didn’t try to hide his intentions either, gloating that he takes advantage of America’s laws for the benefit of his company.
“When we talk about your business: You’ve taken business bankruptcy six times,” Clinton said. “There are a lot of great business people that have never taken bankruptcy once. You call yourself the king of debt.”
“I take advantage of the laws of the nation, because I’m running the company,” Trump countered. “My obligation right now is to do well for myself, my family, my employees, for my companies and that’s what I do.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.