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Trump’s troubles mount before  veep debate

As Donald Trump has tried to defend his record as a successful businessman in light of reports that he used losses of nearly $1 billion to not pay income tax, he was instructed to stop collecting contributions for his foundation.

us presidential election Updated: Oct 04, 2016 22:12 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Donald Trump,Trump Foundation,US presidential election
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump applauds supporters after his speech at the Budweiser Events Center in Colorado on Monday. Trump was making his second of two campaign stops in Colorado, considered one of several swing states that could be a deciding factor in the November election. (AFP)

As Donald Trump has tried to defend his record as a successful businessman in light of reports that he used losses of nearly $1 billion to not pay income tax, he was on Monday instructed to stop collecting contributions for his foundation, topping off a particularly dismal run in recent days.

The New York attorney general's office announced it had issued instructions that the Trump Foundation "must immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fund-raising activities in New York".

The order came a day after The Washington Post, which has done a string of exposes on Trump's charities, reported that the foundation had not registered itself with the state and had thus escaped the intense scrutiny faced by such bodies that solicit and accept donations from the public, specially in New York.

The foundation has been instructed to file the necessary paperwork in the next 15 days, and runs the risk of being declared a "fraud" if it as found in non-compliance. The Trump campaign has called the action politically motivated. The attorney general has endorsed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Last week, The New York Times reported Trump suffered financial losses of $916 million in 1996, which, the publication posited, he used to not pay taxes for 18 years. The Republican candidate’s surrogates have called him a "genius" for it, while critics such as Clinton have questioned how a "genius" could have lost nearly a $1 billion in a year.

The disclosure about the foundation couldn't have come at a more inopportune time for the Trump campaign as vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence goes up against his Democratic rival Tim Kaine in the election's solitary VP debate on Tuesday. Pence’s list of things to defend for the main name on the ticket, Trump, grew a bit longer.

VP nominees or their debates are not known to have determined the outcome of the race, but with Clinton widening the gap between her and Trump in polls once again, after they were separated only by two points, everything will matter.

Clinton has begun pulling away again in polls, riding a post-debate bump helped by a string of missteps from Trump — including his spat with a former beauty queen when he defended his derisive remarks about her gaining weight in 1996.

The Democrat is leading Trump 48.1% to 44.2% in the RealClearPolitics average of polls. And in FiveThirtyEight's election forecast, her chances of winning were 72.4% on Tuesday, to Trump's 27.6%.

Trump has looked angry after generally being considered to have lost the first presidential debate, which he had claimed to have won by citing tendentious online polls, and has shown a tendency to go off script lately, returning to his freewheeling ways that got him into trouble earlier.

First Published: Oct 04, 2016 22:12 IST