Donald Trump's allies hail his 'genius' for not paying tax for 20 years
Reports that Donald Trump may have paid no income taxes for nearly two decades show the Republican US Presidential nominee is a genius, his closest allies have said.
The Trump campaign came out fighting after a story in the New York Times that the tycoon lost nearly $916m (£705,574,108) in 1995 - so much that he could have legally avoided paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years.
It came after a tough week for Mr Trump following the first TV debate against Hillary Clinton, which sparked a feud with a former beauty queen he called "Miss Piggy" as he shamed her for gaining weight.
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, a senior Trump supporter, did not dispute the newspaper report, and called the businessman "a genius at how to take advantage of legal remedies that can help your company survive and grow".
He told ABC's This Week: "Don't you think a man who has this kind of economic genius is a lot better for the United States than a woman? And the only thing she's ever produced is a lot of work for the FBI checking out her emails."
When asked whether such a loophole was fair, he noted that many Americans have such low incomes that they are not required to pay federal income taxes either. "A lot of the people that are poor take advantage of loopholes and pay no taxes. Those are loopholes also."
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared it "a very, very good story for Donald Trump".
He told Fox News Sunday the New York Times story showcases "the genius of Donald Trump" because he has said he would follow the law, would ease tax policy on working people and knows tax policy better than anyone.
Mr Trump weighed in on social media, saying he was singularly qualified to fix the nation's tax system. "I know our complex tax laws better than anyone who has ever run for President and am the only one who can fix them," he tweeted.
Early voting is already under way in some states, and former Trump adviser Barry Bennett said: "He's not been on message.
"A week was wasted where he could have been talking about the heroin epidemic and jobs and ISIS. All the money in the world can't get that time back."
Democratic rival Mrs Clinton reposted a tweet from Mr Trump, who wrote in 2012: "HALF of Americans don't pay income tax despite crippling govt debt..."
"Now that's pretty rich coming from a guy who paid 0 dollars in taxes for 18 years," Mrs Clinton tweeted.