There was one very simple takeaway from a complicated New York Times exposé analyzing two decades of the president’s tax return data: $750.
That’s how much President Trump paid in federal income taxes in both 2016 and 2017.
In some ways, the figure’s specificity was more visceral than if he had paid zero dollars — which he did for 11 of 18 years that the Times examined. The $750 figure may stick in the minds of blue-collar voters who earn far less than a president, and who pay far more in federal taxes.
Democrats hope they can turn any feeling of unjustness the number evokes to their advantage. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Sunday that she had paid thousands of dollars in federal taxes in 2016 and 2017 — when she was still working as a New York bartender. “He contributed less to funding our communities than waitresses & undocumented immigrants,” she wrote.
The Biden campaign on Sunday night used the report to press its case that Mr. Trump is out of touch with the working Americans he says he is fighting for. The campaign quickly put out a video showing the typical income taxes paid by an elementary school teacher, a firefighter and a nurse. Each paid thousands of dollars in taxes per year.
At a Sunday evening news conference, Mr. Trump dismissed the reporting as “totally fake news” and claimed he was never contacted about the report, despite the fact that a lawyer for the Trump Organization was quoted in the article.
But it’s inevitably a story he will face questions about in the first presidential debate on Tuesday night. And with five weeks left in the race, every day that Mr. Trump is on defense is one when he isn’t able to shift the dynamics of a race that public polls show he is currently losing.
Revelations like the fact that Mr. Trump deducted $70,000 for hairstyling expenses during “The Apprentice” also risk contributing to a sense that the president views his supporters — those who serve in the military, or pay their tax bills, or attend his rallies in the middle of a pandemic — as fools.
To wit: The tax revelations followed a report in The Atlantic this month that said the president had privately referred to American troops killed in combat as “losers” and “suckers.”
And a former official on the coronavirus task force, Olivia Troye, has gone on the record in recent weeks to recall that Mr. Trump, during a meeting she attended, said there was an upside to the virus: He would no longer have to shake hands with “disgusting” people, referring to his own supporters.
President Trump lashed out on Monday at a New York Times report that revealed he paid almost nothing in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, insisting that he paid “many millions of dollars” in taxes.
“The Fake News Media, just like Election time 2016, is bringing up my Taxes & all sorts of other nonsense with illegally obtained information & only bad intent,” he wrote on Twitter.
His claim of having paid millions to the government did not specify federal income taxes, and he complained that he “was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation and tax credits.”
The report said that Mr. Trump paid no federal income taxes in 11 of 18 years that The Times examined because of huge losses in other businesses that Mr. Trump owns. The president used provisions in the tax law to offset his tax obligations with the losses.
The Monday tweets followed a Sunday evening news conference in which the president called the report “totally fake news” and claimed he was never contacted for it, despite the fact that it quotes a lawyer for the Trump organization.
The president appeared most annoyed on Monday by the suggestion that he is not as wealthy and successful as he claims to be.
“If you look at the extraordinary assets owned by me, which the Fake News hasn’t, I am extremely under leveraged – I have very little debt compared to the value of assets,” he insisted on Twitter.
He said he “might release” financial statement that show “all properties, assets and debts,” but did not say when he might do that. “It is a very IMPRESSIVE Statement,” he wrote.
In fact, as the Times article notes, Mr. Trump is heavily in debt, and much of what he owes to lenders will have to be paid back in just a few years.
“He is personally responsible for loans and other debts totaling $421 million, with most of it coming due within four years,” it says. “Should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.”
If political tradition is any guide — and in the Trump era, it might not be — the two presidential candidates may stay out of the spotlight on the eve of their first debate.
President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. spent Sunday setting up their Tuesday encounter in different ways: Mr. Biden delivered a speech opposing Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination and Mr. Trump declared on Twitter that both he and his Democratic challenger should take drug tests, before later denying a bombshell New York Times report about two decades of his previously undisclosed tax returns.
So on Monday, Senator Kamala Harris of California may take center stage with a trip to North Carolina, where she is supposed to address Judge Barrett’s nomination. The trip is an opportunity for her to claim a news cycle in a campaign so dominated by Mr. Trump that the running mates on both sides have played relatively muted roles.
More significantly, Ms. Harris’s remarks could offer the clearest look yet at how she will address her role not just as Mr. Biden’s political partner but as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the panel that will screen Judge Barrett’s nomination.
Ms. Harris’s position on the committee helped make her a national figure, and she earned the lasting appreciation of Democrats for her approach to questioning previous Trump appointees, like Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and Attorney General William P. Barr.
But her looming confrontation with Judge Barrett may be the most complicated and important one yet, involving the overlapping but distinct pressures of Senate Democrats’ effort to slow Judge Barrett’s nomination and her own campaign’s desire to turn the appointment into an electoral liability for the White House.
It is significant that Ms. Harris’s remarks will come in North Carolina, one of the two most closely divided swing states in polling conducted this month by The Times. The other is Georgia, and the Biden-Harris ticket’s fate in both states may hinge on its ability to maximize support among women and ignite powerful turnout from Black voters. Both are constituencies with much at stake in the Supreme Court fight.
Joseph R. Biden Jr. was frustrated as he tried last year to prepare for an unwieldy debate season that stuffed as many as 11 other Democratic rivals onto a single stage. At some mock sessions, he was flanked by “Elizabeth Warren,” played by Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, and “Bernie Sanders,” portrayed by Bob Bauer, the former White House counsel, as they peppered him with progressive lines of attack.
Mr. Biden lamented privately to advisers — and occasionally in public — that it was nearly impossible to debate with such a crowd. “If you had a debate with five other people, you might actually get a chance to say something,” Mr. Biden told donors in Hollywood last fall. He would deliver more forceful performances as the field narrowed, he promised.
Now, Mr. Biden will get his chance. The former vice president will debate President Trump for the first time on Tuesday, a date circled for months as one of the most consequential on the 2020 political calendar, and one of a dwindling number of chances for Mr. Trump to chip into Mr. Biden’s lead in the polls.
Given Mr. Biden’s current polling edge, his advisers have been downplaying the debate’s significance even as the former vice president has plunged himself into days of intense preparation. He is rehearsing and studying his briefing books — Mr. Biden has long preferred the Arial typeface, 14 point — in a process overseen by his longtime adviser and former chief of staff, Ron Klain, who similarly ran Hillary Clinton’s debate camp.
“It is definitely one of the last things that could move the race,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary under former President Barack Obama and a former adviser to Mr. Biden. “The odds of it moving the race are not high. But there are not that many opportunities.”
In a close race, the presidential election could be decided by an unlikely spot: Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, which includes Omaha and most of its suburbs.
If the race is decided there, Joseph R. Biden Jr. appears to have the advantage, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll. He leads President Trump by seven points, 48 percent to 41 percent.
Unlike most states, Nebraska awards its Electoral College votes by congressional district: The statewide winner receives two votes, and the winner of each district receives one. And while one electoral vote isn’t much, it could prove decisive in an increasingly plausible set of circumstances.
Nebraska’s Second District would give Mr. Biden exactly 270 electoral votes, the number needed to win, if he held the states that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 and flipped Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan. It would allow him to win the presidency without Pennsylvania or Florida.
The district has long loomed as a potential vulnerability for the president. It is traditionally Republican, but Mr. Trump carried it by only two points in 2016. The district was even closer than familiar battleground states like Arizona or North Carolina.
Its demographics have made it an even more plausible pickup opportunity for Mr. Biden. It’s relatively white, metropolitan and well educated, and national polls routinely show Mr. Biden running ahead of Mrs. Clinton’s performance among all three of those groups.
For both President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the three presidential debates may well be the most critical moments of a fall campaign that is being carried out without the typical dawn-to-dusk days of rallies, local television appearances and talking to voters. Millions of Americans will set aside time in the midst of a pandemic to judge Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden side by side in the unfiltered forum of the two men on a stage.
Through 14 primary and general election debates in 2015 and 2016, Mr. Trump emerged as the showman, with a keen sense of how to seize the spotlight, hammer home clear and succinct themes and discombobulate an opponent with claims and accusations that, while often false, are difficult to rebut in real time.
By contrast, Mr. Biden is the classic Senate orator, with knowledge of history and the nuances of policy and a respect for the rules of the game. He draws on the tragedies of his life — the loss of his wife and daughter in a car accident, the death of his son from brain cancer — and tales about growing up around Scranton, Pa., to relate to his audiences. He is quick with a smile that can defuse an attack.
Mr. Trump’s debating style helped carry him to victory and can still be glimpsed almost every time he appears at a White House news conference or a rally.
But Mr. Biden’s performances were inconsistent over the course of nearly a dozen Democratic primary debates. Even his supporters say that, at 77, his voice is less firm and that he appears less energetic and passionate than he used to. Mr. Trump has highlighted some of those moments to raise doubts about his opponent’s mental acuity.
The big question is which version of Mr. Biden will be on the stage Tuesday night. Will it be the vigorous, engaged former senator and vice president who has a firm grasp over both his own record and that of his opponent, adept at delivering the punch and nimble enough to adjust to this entirely unconventional opponent? Or will it be the Mr. Biden who sometimes seemed distracted during the early Democratic debates, sparking to life at some times but at others adrift in the tumult of a crowded stage?
The first episode of our four-part series, Stressed Election, focuses on voter suppression in Georgia, where growing numbers of Black people and Latinos are on the precipice of exercising their political voice — if they get the chance to vote.
National polls released on Sunday continued to show Joseph R. Biden Jr. hanging on to a significant lead as his first debate with President Trump approaches. The polls, one by The New York Times/Siena College and two from ABC News/The Washington Post, found Mr. Biden ahead by an average of eight points.
Mr. Biden also got some good news over the weekend in NBC/Marist polls from the battleground states of Wisconsin, showing Mr. Biden leading among likely voters by 10 points, and Michigan, showing him leading by 8. But one big caveat: those polls were not weighted by education, which means they probably have too many college graduates represented and overstate support for Mr. Biden (Failing to weight by education is one of the main things that went wrong with polls in 2016.)
In Georgia and North Carolina, which Mr. Trump won by more than five points and nearly four points in 2016, CBS/YouGov joined a long list of pollsters to show very close presidential races in those states, with Mr. Trump up by one point in Georgia and Mr. Biden up by two points in North Carolina.
CBS/YouGov polls also offered promising news for Democrats in some of the most hotly contested Senate races, finding the Democrat Cal Cunningham up by 10 points against the Republican incumbent, Thom Tillis, in North Carolina, and the Republican stalwart Senator Lindsey Graham locked in a tight race with Jaime Harrison in South Carolina.
President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr. will not be the only ones in the spotlight at their first debate on Tuesday night. Chris Wallace, the Fox News anchor who is moderating, will face intense scrutiny on how he handles the evening, particularly given Mr. Trump’s tendency to hurl false and baseless claims at his opponents.
But Mr. Wallace warned that viewers should not expect him to fact-check either candidate.
“My job is to be as invisible as possible,” Mr. Wallace said during a Fox News segment on Sunday. “I’m trying to get them to engage, to focus on the key issues, to give people at home a sense of, ‘why I want to vote for one versus the other.’”
Mr. Wallace, who has regularly argued that fact-checking is outside the purview of a debate moderator, called it “a step too far.”
“I do not believe it is my job to be a truth squad,” he said in the run-up to his 2016 debate between Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton. “It’s up to the other person to catch them on that.” Those comments caused a minor stir at the time, but the debates’ organizers have made clear they agree, and his stewardship of that debate earned praise at the time.
Tuesday’s debate, which airs commercial-free from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern time on every major network, is likely to attract a television and livestreaming audience of close to 100 million for the kind of civic gathering increasingly rare in a polarized, pandemic-stricken age.
The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to overhaul the way communities test their water for lead, a policy change that will be pitched ahead of Election Day as a major environmental achievement for a president not noted for his conservation record.
But a draft of the final rule obtained by The New York Times shows the E.P.A. rejected the recommendation of top medical and scientific experts who urged the agency to require the replacement of the country’s six million to 10 million lead service lines, an expensive but effective way to avoid crises like the one still afflicting Flint, Mich.
The measure is the first major update in nearly three decades to the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule, a regulation aimed at protecting drinking water from lead, a potent neurotoxin that has been linked to developmental problems in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there is no safe level of lead exposure for children, and the new rule requires for the first time testing for lead in all schools and day care centers.
“The rule will better identify high levels of lead, improve the reliability of lead tap sampling results, strengthen corrosion control treatment requirements, expand consumer awareness and improve risk communication,” the draft from mid-July said.
Still, beyond internal debates among state and local officials, the new lead rule is unlikely to burnish the president’s image, political strategists say. Mr. Trump’s environmental record has been a rallying cry for some voters because he has relentlessly pushed to dismantle measures to control air and water pollution while mocking and dismissing climate change.
In recent weeks, however, he has sought a remarkable rebranding, even describing himself as the most environmentally friendly president since Theodore Roosevelt. In Jupiter, Fla., this month, he endorsed a 10-year moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the Southeast coast. His administration is the one that proposed lifting the moratorium in the first place.
Republican strategists said Mr. Trump’s campaign might be trying to improve his standing among suburban women and other swing voters. But they also doubted it would pay off.
Like many things this year, the presidential and vice-presidential debates will look a little different. There will only be one moderator per debate, and we’re still not sure if there will be a crowd — and, if there is, how many people will be allowed in. Each debate will start at 9 p.m. Eastern time and will run uninterrupted for an hour and a half, according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Here’s a rundown of what we know for each debate so far:
Sept. 29: First Presidential Debate
Location: President Trump and Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, will meet at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
How to watch: The Times will livestream the event, and our reporters will provide commentary and analysis. It will also be carried on channels including CNN, Fox News, CBS, ABC, C-SPAN, NBC and MSNBC.
The moderator: Chris Wallace, the anchor of “Fox News Sunday,” will moderate.
Topics announced: The moderator has full discretion in picking the debate topics. For the first round, Mr. Wallace chose Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Biden’s records, the Supreme Court, the pandemic, the economy, race and violence in cities, and the integrity of the election.
Oct. 7: Vice-Presidential Debate
Location: Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.
How to watch: The Times will have an uninterrupted livestream and will provide insight and analysis. It will also be carried on the news networks.
The moderator: Susan Page, USA Today’s Washington bureau chief.
Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate. There will be nine topics.
Oct. 15: Second Presidential Debate
Location: Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.
How to watch: The Times will stream the event and provide live analysis. It will also be carried on the news networks.
The moderator: Steve Scully, the political editor at C-SPAN, will moderate a town-hall-style event with undecided voters from South Florida.
Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate.
Oct. 22: Third Presidential Debate
Location: Belmont University in Nashville.
How to watch: The Times will have an uninterrupted stream along with a live chat and a live briefing with analysis from our reporters. It will also be carried on the news networks.
The moderator: Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent and co-anchor of “Weekend Today.” She is only the second Black woman to serve as the sole moderator of a presidential debate.
Topics announced: They will be made public a week before the debate, but there will be six topics.
Many voting rules have changed this year because of the pandemic, making it harder than usual to figure out how to cast your ballot. So we did the work for you, in hopes of helping make sure your vote is counted.
MIAMI — President Trump’s former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was hospitalized after the police were called to his home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by his wife, who said he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself, officials said on Sunday evening.
The episode took place outside a home that, records show, Mr. Parscale bought in 2019.
“When officers arrived on scene, they made contact with the reportee (wife of armed subject) who advised her husband was armed, had access to multiple firearms inside the residence and was threatening to harm himself,” the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said in a statement. “Officers determined the only occupant inside the home was the adult male. Officers made contact with the male, developed a rapport, and safely negotiated for him to exit the home.”
The police identified the man as Mr. Parscale, and said he was taken to Broward Health Medical Center for an evaluation.
Mr. Parscale was replaced as campaign manager in July, after complaints from Mr. Trump about how the campaign’s money had been spent and as the president sank in the polls, largely because of his own performance handling the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonetheless, Mr. Parscale remained a target of criticism, in part because of his public presence representing the campaign. He has remained as an adviser to the campaign, primarily dealing with digital fund-raising and digital advertising.
In a statement, Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the campaign, said: “Brad Parscale is a member of our family and we all love him. We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.
Here are the daily schedules of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for Monday, Sept. 28. All times are Eastern time.
2 p.m.: Gives an update on the nation’s coronavirus testing strategy at the White House.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.
No events scheduled. Preparing for Tuesday’s presidential debate.
Vice President Mike Pence
No events scheduled.
Senator Kamala Harris
Afternoon: Speaks on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett and the Affordable Care Act in Raleigh, N.C.
After that: Takes part in a “Sister to Sister” round table in North Carolina to hear from Black voters.