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NYT Obtains Trump's Federal Income Tax Documents; "New York Times" Reports Trump Paid No Income Taxes In 10 Of Past 15 Years; Trump Calls "The New York Times" Report Fake News; Biden And Trump To Face Off In First Presidential Debate Tuesday; Former Ohio Governor John Kasich Talks About What It Takes To Beat President Trump In A Debate. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired September 27, 2020 - 19:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. We've intended to bring you a special two-hour debate preview tonight and we're going to focus a lot on the debate, but instead we begin with breaking news. And while alone this seemingly factor into the debate, it is huge in its own right.

Shortly before we came to air, a massive piece of investigate reporting hit "The New York Times" Web site. The subject is President Trump's taxes. More significantly how little he pays and has paid.

Quoting now from the lead, "Donald J. Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he won the presidency. In his first year in the White House, he paid another $750." Not $750,000. $750. He had paid no income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years according to the "New York Times." Largely because he reported losing much more money than he made, they said.

The "Times" report is headlined long-concealed records show Trump's chronic losses and years of tax avoidance. The "Times'" Susanne Craig, Russ Buettner and Mike McIntire shared the byline. They write, "The 'New York Times' has obtained tax return data extending over more than two decades for Mr. Trump and the hundreds of companies that make up his business organization including detailed information from his first two years in office. It does not include his personal returns for 2018 or 2019."

The "Times" continue, "His reports to the IRS portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, yet racks up chronic losses that he aggressively employs to avoid paying taxes. They cite the annual financial disclosures he makes as a public official versus what he told the IRS for the same time period.

And I'm quoting again from the "Times," "In 2018, for example, Mr. Trump announced in his disclosure that he had made at least $434.9 million. The tax records deliver a very different portrait of his bottom line, $47.4 million in losses." The reporting paints a picture of a man under sharp financial pressure, details a string of other questionable financial moves and foreign entanglements. That said as the "Times" report concedes it does not reveal the

president's wealth and it does not reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia. It does, however, reach a conclusion, quoting the authors again from the "Times," ultimately, they write, "Mr. Trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life."

Joining us now is Tim O'Brien, Bloomberg Opinion senior columnist and author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald."

Tim, as someone who is intimately familiar President Trump and how he likes to present his wealth and you worked on the Bloomberg campaign as well, what was your reaction when you saw this "New York Times" story? I mean, does it square with the Donald Trump that you yourself profiled and tangled with in court?

TIM O'BRIEN, TRUMP BIOGRAPHER: It absolutely does, Anderson. This is the Donald Trump who is portrayed his tax returns, is someone who engineered a massive tax cut for corporate America, and for the most affluent Americans while avoiding paying anything in taxes, literally almost anything. $750 the year he was elected president at a time when he was saying he was worth $10 billion, which I can assure you he's lying when he said he's worth $10 billion. He's worth a small fraction of that at best.

I think the tax return shows that he's deeply indebted. I suspect he's always been much more indebted than he's disclosed publicly. The taxes show that he's an abysmally bad businessman and deal maker, but someone who is not shy at all about bending the tax code to the point that the IRS is now auditing him in order to keep preserving as much money as he can for himself.

There is no president in the modern era who even comes close to Donald Trump in terms of rigging his own finances while taking his hand -- or putting his hand constantly in the public till and not doing anything properly in terms of public policy that would make the tax system more equitable. I think reporters have known this about Donald Trump for decades. I think the beauty of what the "New York Times" did tonight is they put numeric clothing on it. Trump can't deny what he's written in his own tax return.

COOPER: Right. I mean, this is all based on what -- on Trump's presentation to tax authorities, not on what the IRS themselves found in any investigations or audits that are going on or maybe going on or have. There's one long-term one that the "Times" talks about. Also Ivanka Trump is wrapped up in there, she was being paid while -- being paid as a member of the Trump Organization, as employee.

She also was getting consulting fees for a whole variety of stuff which allowed him, I guess, to deduct money -- even more money that he didn't have to pay in taxes. And according to the report, President Trump personally has guaranteed hundreds of million dollars in loans many of which are coming due in the next four years. It certainly -- for anybody who thinks, well, this doesn't really matter, we all know he was a fabulous -- he wasn't as wealthy as he said and is a bad businessman and has been hiding his taxes. [19:05:06]

It does -- if there's another four years, it does kind of raise the specter of what -- if he's in really bad financial shape, what he has to do to make money and earn more money while he's still in office.

O'BRIEN: And how ready and willing he'd be to, I think, corrupt the White House even further in order to pad his own wallet. He's never authentically separated himself from his businesses when he came on as president. His longtime accountant and his two sons run the business. I can guarantee you there's no meaningful distance between them and him when it comes to money and the business.

I think some of the other details that are important in the tax returns are the extent to which he writes off absurd expenses against his business accounts including paying for things like getting his hair done. I try to list some of these things without laughing.

COOPER: $70,000 I think it was for a year or something on the "Apprentice."

O'BRIEN: Right. Right. And, you know, the children, Eric Trump, will say things like Seven Springs, their golf estate north of New York City, is a family residence when they're promoting it. But of course they then treat it like this business expense when tax time comes.

I mean, I think there's a lot of fodder in here for the IRS to dig into. I think what's really important amid all of the numbers and everything that's coming out in this is, you have in the numbers a portrait of a president as a con man and a long-term drifter.

Donald Trump is probably the most successful con man in modern history and he's wound up in the White House, and he's been perverting public policy and corrupting people around him including members of his own Cabinet and his own children in service of that. And when you see what's in these numbers, that can't be denied any longer.

COOPER: You know, I mean, when the whole -- you know, whether it's years from now or whenever the whole truth comes out, what a tale this is of our Times that we have been riding along in.

Tim O'Brien, appreciate it.

Reaction now from the White House. CNN's John Harwood is there.

John, what did the president have to say when asked about this?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, he said exactly what you would expect. He didn't address the specifics in this massive "New York Times" expose. He deflected, said, well, I paid a lot of state taxes. He criticized the "New York Times," said they were going after him because he was a conservative Republican. He said the entire thing was fake news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, basically -- well, first of all, I paid a lot and I paid a lot of state income taxes, too. The New York state charges a lot and I paid a lot of money in state. It will all be revealed. It's going to come out but after the audit -- after the -- I'm being -- they're doing their assessment. We've been negotiating for a long time. Things get settled like in the IRS. But right now when you're under audit, you don't do that.

So we're under audit. But the story is a total fake and all of this -- we had the same exact questions usually asked by the same people and that took place four years ago. You remember.


HARWOOD: It's important to remember, Anderson, that this is not the first time this issue has come up. It came up four years ago. In fact, we're two days from the first debate. Four years ago in the debate, Hillary Clinton discussed this precise issue and the president bragged about it.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only years that anybody has ever seen were 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. So --

TRUMP: That makes me smart.


HARWOOD: Now the question is going to be, do all those voters and taxpayers who've paid a lot more than $750 over the last several years, are they going to look at this after four years of the Trump presidency and say, Donald Trump paid that little because he's smarter than me or was it for some other reason? Is he compromised in some way in the performance of his duties because of this financial pressure? And you can bet that Joe Biden in the first of these four presidential debates is going to bring that up on Tuesday night.

COOPER: John Harwood, appreciate it. John, thank you from the White House tonight.

Next, the debate, how Joe Biden is preparing and our political professionals on what to expect and what role this may play.

Later, what it's like to go up against Donald Trump on the debate stage. And a conversation with someone who has, former Ohio governor John Kasich.



COOPER: Whether it's the new reporting in the "New York Times" about how little the president paid in federal income taxes for someone as wealthy as he claims to be or the pandemic, which now nearly taken 205,000 lives in this country on his watch or Americans losing health insurance, it's likely to factor into Tuesday night's debate in Cleveland.

Arlette Saenz is there for us tonight.

So, Arlette, has the Biden campaign responded to the "Times" story about President Trump's taxes?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, Joe Biden's campaign has not responded yet to this story about the president's taxes. But Biden has often pressed President Trump to release his tax returns. He said that the president should release them or shut up. And even earlier this week when he was campaigning in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Biden talked about the fact that the president hasn't released those tax returns.

He suggested that the reason the president hasn't done so is because he doesn't want Americans to know how much he paid. This was all part of Biden's pitch as he's tried to lean into his own working class roots as he's framing this campaign as one between Scranton, Pennsylvania, his birthplace, and Park Avenue, talking about President Trump. And for Biden's own part, he has released a lot of tax returns, more than two decades back in 2008. When he ran for vice president, he released 10 years and then he released all of those tax returns while he was still in office and even two years after he left office.


So we are still waiting to hear exactly how Biden will respond to this. But it has been common for him to push for the president's tax returns out on the campaign trail.

COOPER: Is there any -- I mean, do you know how the Biden campaign is preparing for the debates? I mean, how Joe Biden is preparing for the debates?

SAENZ: Well, we know that Joe Biden has been meeting with his top advisers and one thing we'll be waiting to see is how they might incorporate this story and this report into their debate strategy. Biden has been huddling with his top advisers as he's preparing for what he believes will be personal attacks from the president.

One of those people leading his debate prep is Ron Klain, a long time Biden adviser is running it who also ran Hillary Clinton's debate prep against President Trump back in 2016. We also know that Bob Bauer, a former White House counsel in the Obama administration, has played President Trump in one of the former vice president's debate prep sessions. So right now, his campaign and his advisers, they are really trying to hone in in these final days on how they're going to respond to the president in this debate as Biden himself has said that he believes will turn very personal.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, one of the things that former Vice President Biden has said is that he will be fact-checking the president on the stage. Obviously, there's a lot of -- a lot that can go wrong with that and most of which is you can eat up all your time talking about what the other person just said as opposed to talking about what you would be doing.

SAENZ: Yes, that's right. And that's something that they're going to have to consider as they're heading into Tuesday night. They have acknowledged that it's not going to be possible for Biden to fact- check every claim from the president. Now, the Biden campaign has suggested that that's the job of the moderator. The commission has said that that's not the moderator's job, that's up to the candidate to fact-check their opponents in the debate.

But they will certainly have to deal with that heading forward. And Biden has said that the president doesn't know how to debate on the facts. Biden has said that he doesn't understand domestic policy and foreign policy, and Biden's people that I've spoken to acknowledged that he's very well versed in policy having served in the Senate for many years as well as the White House.

But as he heads into that debate, he's going to be looking for how to not just go after President Trump, but also lay out his own clear vision for the country going forward.

COOPER: Arlette Saenz, thanks very much.

Let's get perspective now from CNN Senior Political Analyst and former Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod, also CNN Political Reporter, Abby Phillip.

David, I mean, the president's refusal to release his tax returns obviously has been one of his longest-running controversies. He's, you know, said that he's still under audit. His attorneys put out a statement long ago saying, you know, his audits I think prior to -- his returns prior to 2008 are not being audited. Still he hasn't released anything.

How damaging do you think this "New York Times" report might be?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, it's voluminous and there are so many different angles, some of which are legal, Anderson. If you were making representations on your tax reform -- on your tax forms that speak to great losses and you inflate your revenues in order to get loans or insurance, that creates fraud and that's apparently what the core of the district attorney in Manhattan is looking at and that's why they've asked for the president's tax returns and presumably it's why the president has fought so vigorously not to have him get those tax returns.

What effect it has on this race, I really don't know. The president already has abysmal ratings in terms of honesty and integrity. I think many people have assumed that he hasn't wanted to release his tax returns because he doesn't want people see how much he has or hasn't paid. But I'll say this. You know, you were a witness at the CNN town hall with Joe Biden to I think a strategic shift on his part where he was really emphasizing his roots in Scranton, on hardworking people --

COOPER: Right. Scranton versus Park Avenue. AXELROD: Right. I think this really does feed into that and my guess

is that, you know, he will hold Trump up as an example of someone who has had great privilege and has scammed the system while people in Scranton work hard, pay their taxes and do what's expected of them, and he'll identify himself with that and that could be very powerful.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, Abby, according to the "New York Times," you know, Donald Trump started technically getting money from his dad when he was 3 years old and there were hundreds of millions of dollars that he ultimately inherited from his father in various, you know, schemes that they did in terms of avoiding taxes and shifting it over to baby Donald Trump at that time.

It's interesting, though, Abby, I mean, do you think the -- do you foresee the Biden campaign trying to focus on this a lot? Because, again, it's not clear if it may have an immediate impact and, you know, whether this is all kind of baked into people's perception of Donald Trump?


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think that's the biggest question that I have about all of this as much of a bombshell as this report is. I do think it seems to confirm a lot of things that people already felt about Donald Trump or perceived about him over time and even what you just described that the president basically inherited virtually everything that he has, got a sort of multimillion dollar head start into entrepreneurship, that's something that played into the 2016 race as well.

That would not necessarily be new information to voters, but I think what we found four years ago was that many voters simply didn't believe that. His brand as the sort of "Apprentice" figure, this successful businessman, was something that a lot of voters instinctively felt like they believed. So I don't know that this is really going to change people on either side of the equation. Those who want to believe that Donald Trump is a very successful businessman and those who believe that he is a con man.

On the other hand, I do think that this is just one other thing that Trump has to now deal with and I think his explanations are growing increasingly thin. There's so much documentation now that seems to suggest that he's hiding his tax returns because he doesn't want to show that he's not paying taxes and just the sort of deceptive part of this is I think part of the picture that the Biden campaign might want to paint, but by and large, they have a bigger challenge which is sort of showing the American people what Joe Biden is going to do for them. And I think all of this is going to be in the atmosphere around that as well.

COOPER: Well, also, David, I mean, this does have real-world ramifications especially if President Trump gets a second term. You know, if he is beholden and has personal loans, you know, that he's guaranteed for hundreds of millions of dollars that are going to be coming due, you know, the "Times" says that he's received money from the Philippines, from Turkey, as well as other places during the time he's been in office.

Is that the reason he constantly praises Erdogan and allowed him to just move into Syria and move the Kurds out and try to wipe out the Kurds? I mean, it does -- it's not just --

AXELROD: Well, yes --

COOPER: Yes, go ahead.

AXELROD: You have autocrats in the Philippines and in India as well. And one of the things that was stunning in the piece was that while he was not paying taxes, apparently not paying taxes to the U.S. government, he was paying taxes to the Philippines, to India and to Panama for licensing deals.

Yes, I mean, I think the -- you know, the story does detail ways in which the president has monetized his office to his own benefit and it does raise the question of what would happen if he was unbridled by the need to run for re-election, if he was so brazen in his first four years.

But, again, and I think Abby is saying the same thing, so much of this is baked in the cake with Donald Trump. So much of it is known or suspected his loyal followers will I'm sure accept his word that this is all fake news even though he could release his tax returns at any time. I mean, there's no -- his own IRS commissioner said there's no prohibition against releasing your tax returns even if you're under audit.

So that's just a diversion. But I'm not sure that it changes the basic structure of things. And one of the things Joe Biden has to be careful about in this debate is not to just chase rabbits down the hole. He needs to really focus on how this election impacts on Americans and their lives and, you know, sol I think he's going to want to talk about, for example, pre-existing conditions and the Affordable Care Act and the thread that it's hanging by now with the Supreme Court appointment.

That is a more valuable way to spend your time than getting into the sort of arcadia of this very, very detailed labyrinth --


AXELROD: Labyrinth and economic picture of Donald Trump.

COOPER: Abby, you know, during the debate, no doubt the president will say that, you know, all people in his position, you know, try to do everything they can to avoid paying taxes. What's interesting in the "Times," which I hadn't realized is that I think they said, like, of the -- it's not even the top 1 percent. It's like of the 0.0001 percent of rich people, like the richest of the rich, on average pay about 24 percent, I think according to the "Times," whereas President Trump is, I mean, radically, I mean, paying nothing for years and years and years.

So even among super, super wealthy people, if indeed the president is among that group, he's not doing it.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it is a really extraordinary. I mean, there's a part in this article that really boils it down to this which is, how they basically say that he made a lot of money off of his name and his brand, and then avoided paying taxes by writing off losses on all of his business dealings over years and years and years.


And I also thought it was fascinating that we've been talking about this sort of magical audit that this president has been under for so long and we actually got a lot of details about what that audit is and the "Times" indicates that he is under audit because the IRS is challenging the president's seeking of an almost $80 million tax refund which is an extraordinary amount of money, and so I think it really does open up a little bit more of the book of what is really going on here with his finances.

COOPER: Yes. Abby Phillip, thank you --


AXELROD: Anderson, let me just say if I could just say one thing --

COOPER: I got to go but very quick. Yes.

AXELROD: OK. No, I was going to say, you know, this ties into -- he feels that people who served in the military are suckers and he feels like people who pay taxes are suckers, and there are a lot of people who pay taxes and a lot of people who serve their country who may resent that.

COOPER: Yes. David, thank you. Abby, thanks.

Coming up next, what then citizen Donald Trump said about President Barack Obama's taxes. Yes, there's a tweet for everything. Yet again, it is proven.



COOPER: Breaking News tonight. "The New York Times" is reporting on President Trump's tax returns. According to "The Times," the President paid is $750.00 in Federal income tax in 2017 and 2016, the year he took office.

"The Times" report paints a picture of a businessman who is struggling to keep his businesses afloat, and was reporting millions in losses, even as he was campaigning for President boasting about his financial success.

Take a look at this tweet from citizen Trump back in 2012 about then President Obama and income taxes, quote, "Barack Obama wants to raise all our taxes and only pays 20.5 percent on $790,000.00 salary." Trump wrote then. "Do as I say, not as I do," he added. That's your special Sunday edition of there-really-is-a-tweet-for-


Perspective now from CNN senior political commentator, Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator and presidential candidate and Van Jones, a CNN political commentator and former aide to President Obama.

Senator Santorum, the President is still blaming -- you know, claiming audits for not releasing his tax returns, even the ones his attorneys have pointed out are not being audited. Would it behoove him at a certain point to just release them or not?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I don't think it would, you know, it just make some more news. He has decided maybe for the reasons "The New York Times" laid out that they would not necessarily be good news for him, and so, it's better to stonewall it.

I don't think it -- it doesn't seem to have cost him anything in popularity to not release those reports, so I think there's very, very little chance he is going to do so.

COOPER: Right. For the American people, though, trying to figure out if somebody should be reelected and serve as President, I mean, doesn't this raise the stakes and raise again, the issue of though it's not required, everybody has done this, releasing their tax returns to know who this President owes tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars to?

SANTORUM: Yes, again, I think David was right in the previous segment. I think a lot of people sort of baked it into the cake that the President is -- you know has some dealings that are, let's just say, not ordinary and that those are things that they've sort of already figured out.

As it is with a lot of the traits of Donald Trump that are, let's just say less than desirable, I think people have looked at that and say, okay, fine, but look at what he is doing. Look at the policies he is putting forward. Look at what he is doing for the country and the economy and in trade, and a whole bunch of other things that they believe are important. The court et cetera, and I think that's what they're going to vote on, not personal things that are problematic for him.

COOPER: Van, I mean, on the side of the menu, I don't know that it's the side of the menu of not ordinary. It seems more to be the unsavory items on the menu that the President is concerned about. He blasted of course, the reporting of The" New York Times," I'm sure it's what he'll say on the debate stage. I'm wondering what your reaction is?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, you can see now why he did not want this stuff to come out. The poorest person I know paid more in taxes than Donald Trump. I think that's just shocking to anybody.

And I do think that some stuff is baked into the cake, but there is something here that I think is new and is different and it is concerning. I think people say listen, he is a smart business guy. He gets away with fewer taxes, that's great. I'm all for it. You have people that feel that way. Others will feel differently, you should pay your fair share. That's already out there.

Here's what's new. His brand is "I'm strong." His brand is "I'm independent." His brand is "Nobody can tell me what to do." If it turns out he is a weak loser who is in hock to other countries, he is basically not in office trying to solve your financial problems, he is in office trying to solve his own, and he is now vulnerable to anybody who can call these loans in. That's a very different discussion. That is a very different deal.

I think people are going to have to kind of take this on board. This isn't just shenanigans as usual, from Donald Trump for what he is already inoculated. This is -- this dude is in desperate need for money and you have the paperwork to show it.

COOPER: But -- yes.

SANTORUM: Dan, the only thing I would say to that -- sorry, Anderson. The other thing I would say to that is, look there is just a credibility issue. You know, there's a credibility issue from "The New York Times" and from what I would call the mainstream media to the people who are voting for Donald Trump who are considering voting for Donald Trump and so you know, here it is a month before the election, October surprise, the timing of it and is -- it is just very suspect.

I think most people are going to write it off for what they believe it is and what the President will call it. He will call it fake news. He will say it's not true. And they're going to believe him, not "The New York Times."


COOPER: But senator, do you really believe -- I mean, I get -- I know, there are lots of people obviously like the whole fake news thing. Do you really believe that people think in the balance of ethical behavior, ethical standards, "New York Times" versus Donald Trump?

I mean, are there people on the planet -- I get people who support him and you know don't really care about it, but I mean, I don't know of people who really, honestly believe, I'm sure there are lots of them, but that his ethics or his ethics are actually better than anybody?

SANTORUM: Well, I mean, you look at look at Bari Weiss, and you know, the fact that she resigned and look at, you know, some of the things that are going on over there. Here's what I would say.

Maybe overall, no, but with respect to "The New York Times" and how they treat Donald Trump, I think the answer might be yes. I think, you know, there is such a rage against Trump by many in the media that anything they say about him just is completely suspect. In fact, every bit is suspect as to the things that Donald Trump says about everybody else.

COOPER: Senator Santorum, Van Jones, I appreciate it. Sorry, we got tight on time.

Up next President Trump's debate style. What to look for when he faces questions including some on this report from "The New York Times" on his tax returns.



COOPER: The breaking news tonight from "The New York Times" on President Trump's taxes and reportedly shaky finances. The President goes into Tuesday night's debate under renewed pressure from current events.

You'll remember he has been there before, again and again in the 2015- 2016 debates, none of it seemed to matter. We'll now learn why from Randi Kaye.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Businessman Donald Trump.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The tone was set at Donald Trump's first Republican presidential debate in 2015.


QUESTION: You've called Women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account --



KAYE (voice over): That was just the beginning of his one liners.



TRUMP: Go ahead. I am relaxed. You're the basket case.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you'd be in jail.


KAYE (voice over): On the debate stage, it is classic Trump. There's bravado.


TRUMP: I think my strongest asset, maybe by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.


KAYE (voice over): And plenty of insults. This was Trump after Hillary Clinton suggested he tried to get out of contributing more to Social Security.


TRUMP: This is a nasty woman.


KAYE (voice over): And when Rand Paul pointed out Trump's tendency to mock people's appearance --


TRUMP: I never attacked him on his look. And believe me, there's plenty of subject matter right there.


KAYE (voice over): Trump's debate performances are also full of falsehoods. Like when he blasted Hillary Clinton for wanting to raise taxes on everyone, not just the wealthy. Trump also lied about the Iraq War.


TRUMP: I did not support a war in Iraq.


TRUMP: That is a mainstream media nonsense.


KAYE (voice over): The truth is, Trump did support the war. In another debate, he blamed Clinton for starting the birther controversy when it was Trump himself.


TRUMP: Now everybody in mainstream is going to say oh, that's not true. But it's true.


KAYE (voice over): Despite his own lies on stage, Trump is quick to say, hey, it's not me, it's them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the single biggest liar. You probably are

worse than Jeb Bush. You are the single biggest liar.

This little guy has lied so much about my record. He has lied so much about my record.


KAYE (voice over): And when Hillary Clinton leaned on Abraham Lincoln in one of her answers.


TRUMP Honestly, I've never lied. That's the good thing. That's the big difference between Abraham Lincoln and you.


KAYE (voice over): Keeping Trump on topic can be a challenge.


TRUMP: He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I've never heard of this one. Look at those hands, are they small hands? And he referred to my hands if they are small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, there's no problem, I guarantee you.

Two days ago, he said he would take his pants off and moon everybody, and that's fine. Nobody reports that.


KAYE (voice over): On stage, he likes to paint his opponents as weak.


TRUMP: Marco is not a negotiator. I watched him melt down and I'll tell you it was one of the saddest things I've ever seen.

Am I talking or are you talking, Jim?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm talking right now. I'm talking.

TRUMP: You can go back. You're not talking. You interrupted me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: September 30th you said.

TRUMP: Have you apologized yet? No. Am I allowed to finish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, one at a time?

TRUMP: Excuse me. Am I allowed to finish?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, Mr. Trump.

TRUMP: So again, I know you're trying to build up your enemies, but it's not working very much.


KAYE (voice over): And lacking stamina.


TRUMP: You've seen me? I've been all over the place. You decided to stay home and that's okay.


KAYE (voice over): Even the debate moderators are a target for Trump.


TRUMP: First of all, I don't believe anything Telemundo says.

QUESTION: You still believe -- I do.

TRUMP: You hit me all the time.


KAYE (voice over): And it should come as no surprise, poll numbers are one of his favorite debate stage topics.


TRUMP: So, let's see, I'm at 42 and you're at three, so, so far, I'm doing better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

TRUMP: So far, I am doing better. I'm beating him awfully badly in the polls.

First of all, Rand Paul shouldn't even be on the stage. He is number 11. He's got one percent in the polls.


KAYE (voice over): No matter his opponent, make no mistake about it, on debate night, Donald Trump likes to control the conversation.



TRUMP: Quiet. A lot of times --


KAYE (voice over): Randi Kaye, CNN, Miami.

(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: Up next, I'll talk to former Ohio Governor Republican

presidential candidate, John Kasich on what it is like to share a debate stage with Donald Trump and he would or wouldn't use this new report about the President's taxes if he were debating against him. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Before the break, we showed you how candidate Trump performed in previous debates, and throughout the hour, we'll be looking at how tonight's breaking news on how little the President has paid in taxes, in some years, none at all might factor into this one.

Joining us now, someone who has debated the President himself. Here's a moment from October of 2015.


TRUMP: He was so nice. He was such a nice guy. And he said, oh, I'm never going to attack. But then his poll numbers tanked. He's got very -- that's why he's on the end.

JOHN KASICH, THEN CANDIDATE FOR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Folks, we've got to wake up. We cannot elect somebody that doesn't know how to do the job.


COOPER: Joining us now nearly five years later, CNN senior political commentator, former Ohio Governor, John Kasich, who we should point out has endorsed Joe Biden. He's also the author of "It's Up to Us: 10 Little Ways We Can Bring About Big Change."

Governor Kasich, if you were giving advice to anybody debating President Trump on the stage, what would you advise? Because he is unlike any other debate opponent.


JOHN KASICH, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You don't go into the gutter. I mean, you get down in the gutter and start throwing mud, you'll lose. You saw how the other guys did, they had to drop out. You know, I never did it.

I presented -- I took the high road and I never thought you should take the low road to the highest office in the land, but there's two things that I think -- three things that Joe Biden has to be aware of when he debates.

One is, he has got to be aware of the camera. That's something I had to learn because those cameras are on you all the time and they watch every reaction that you have. I think, number two, you have to finish your sentences strong, Anderson. You can't like meander or wander around. You have to finish almost -- think about it -- with like an exclamation point, and I think that's really important.

And also for Joe Biden, it's a matter of stamina, because we see a lot of senior citizens now beginning to move from Trump towards Biden. If he has a good performance and he comes across strong, then I think that he can win them. And that's what's really important.

And of course, it's inevitable, the discussion about his paying these taxes is going to come up. And I mean, look, I heard some of the other guests, but I will tell you this, if you're trying to win blue collar voters, if you're trying to win people who are sort of on the margin, and you find out this guy paid $750.00, not $750,000.00, but $750.00. In a bunch of years, he didn't pay anything, that doesn't pass the smell test.

And it takes Donald Trump off of his most important core message, which is the economy. So I've said a lot here. Sorry, I wanted to get it all in.

COOPER: It also -- well, it also points to, I mean, you know, Joe Biden was sort of testing this idea of, you know, Scranton versus Park Avenue. He is the guy from Scranton. Donald Trump is the guy from Park Avenue or Fifth Avenue is where he now lives.

And this certainly plays into -- this whole tax news certainly plays into that, especially because "The Times" points out and again, if the reporting is accurate, is that even people in that upper echelon tax bracket of like 0.0001 percent usually pay I think "The Times" said on average, 24 percent in Federal taxes, even with all their sort of schemes to dodge taxes.

So even for, you know, if the President is saying, well, look, it is what all people will do in my position, it's actually not. I mean, it seems like it's really kind of rare and extreme what he is doing.

KASICH: Well, I talked to a friend of mine who is very involved in real estate and, you know, there's a lot of things you have to look at when it comes to when you pay and how you pay depreciation schedules, many things. But you know, to pay $750.00, Anderson, $750.00?

COOPER: Well, that's up from nothing for a couple of years.

KASICH: Some people are going to look at this and say, "What?"

COOPER: Yes, I mean, that's an improvement based on -- yes.

KASICH: I know and nothing. I think it's -- yes, I think it's almost better to pay nothing than to pay $750.00. And then to say that you had deductions that included your ability to take care of your hair. I mean, I'm telling you, there are people out there and I know, I come from blue collar, hardworking, these folks are scraping to make a living and they're going to wake up and find out this incredible mogul paid $750.00. I don't care what his excuses are. It doesn't pass the smell. It won't disrupt --

COOPER: And also, he is -- sorry. Go ahead. KASICH: I was going to say, it's not going to disrupt those people who

are for him, totally. They will still be for him, but it's those people on the fence.

COOPER: He's also roped in his daughter, Ivanka Trump, apparently $100,000.00 to some hairstylist that she liked, and then she was already employed by the Trump Organization. But he is also now then paying her as a consultant on all of these projects, and he is able to deduct that from his taxes, because that's a business expense, paying somebody who is already an employee and a family member additionally, as a consultant. I mean, you know, he ropes in everybody can.

KASICH: Anderson, let me tell you something. When you're running for office, okay, and something like this comes up, it just completely changes everything.

All of a sudden, you've got to deal with that. And the things that you want to talk about, you're not talking about and look, we just went through him saying that this election would be a hoax and all that other stuff. Got him off target, got him off message.

Even the court in a funny sort of way, has gotten them off the most important message, which is a message about jobs and the economy. Now, you've got this thing, and you've got people saying, "What? Are you kidding me?" Could you imagine the signs that are going to be put up about him paying $750.00 in taxes?

Anderson, I'll bet you paid more than $750.00 in taxes.

COOPER: Yes. I can guarantee you. I mean, yes, I mean, I was reading this article like this -- I mean, there's all -- I did -- I was unaware of all of these schemes and stuff. I mean, it's incredible. He's been able to take losses from, you know, over -- you know, from years ago and I guess, somehow have them cover, you know, allow him to deduct.

I don't know -- I don't know how it works.


KASICH: Anderson, what's going to happen is the reporters are going to dig, dig, dig, and there's going to be things that are going to come out that are going to appear to normal people as just crazy.

And if that's the kind of taxes to be had, then we better go take another look at what we're doing here.

And so look, there are legitimate deductions, business deductions and all of that, but you just watch the things that will come out by these reporters who came upon this.

But again, if you're a Trump supporter, you're saying it is fake news. But that's not who the target audience is today. It's those people who are up there that in these elections are close. Okay, Anderson, thank you. Good to be with you.

COOPER: Governor, thank you as always. Thank you. Good to see you.

Up next. More on our breaking news on President Trump and taxes. We'll be right back.