Fox News is showing signs of potentially abandoning Trump as surrogate Chris Christie was grilled by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.
Transcript via Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Wait. You’re saying it’s a good story for Donald Trump that he failed to pay any federal income taxes — first of all, that he took a billion-dollar loss, and that he failed to pay any federal income taxes for years. That’s a good story?
CHRISTIE: Chris, first of all, you don’t know he didn’t pay for federal income taxes for years. All the story said was that kind of loss can be used for up to 18 years. But if Mr. Trump made $600 million the next year, $600 million, that loss would be wiped out.
So, let’s be precise about what it said. The New York Times does not have any information in that story that says Mr. Trump did not pay taxes. Aw all they did was quote the law which says if you have that kind of loss, you can use that kind of loss to offset income for up to 18 years.
What we have said is that Mr. Trump has paid millions and millions and millions of dollars in taxes, state and local taxes, property taxes, and federal income taxes over time.
WALLACE: If I may —
CHRISTIE: But, Chris, that’s not what the report says. You can’t come on TV this morning and say that Donald Trump did not pay taxes for years and years when that’s not what the story says.
WALLACE: Well, in fact, the Trump campaign issued a statement last night that was a classic nondenial denial. Here’s what he put up. He has, Trump has, a “fiduciary responsibility to pay no more tax than legally required.”
It’s in effect what he said in the first debate, if he paid no taxes, that makes him smart. I mean, I assume that if he had paid lots of taxes over those years, he’d have told us so.
CHRISTIE: Well, that’s a big assumption on your part, given that the advice he’s gotten — by the way, this proves the advice he’s gotten from his lawyers and accountants is the right advice, because if you’re talking about a tax return from 1995 and all of you in the media have been saying, why don’t you release the tax returns that aren’t under audit? Well, they’re all connected, because of the byzantine tax laws.
WALLACE: So, just to sum this up, because I want to move on to other subjects — as a top Trump adviser, as the head of his presidential transition team, your reaction to the story in “The Times” today is no apologies?
Fox News Sunday called out Trump’s non-denial denial and expressed shock that the Trump campaign would try to spin the news that their candidate may have been dodging personal income taxes for years as a good thing.
Fox News Sunday is usually a sympathetic ear for Republicans to bend, so when Chris Wallace calls out the Trump campaign denial of the Times story as a duck and dodge, it is a sign that Trump’s handling of this story is not playing well in conservative and Republican circles.
Trump will always have his defenders and enablers on Fox News (Fox and Friends, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity), but one gets the sense that the network is on the verge of jumping off the Trump train. If Trump had come up with a remotely reasonable defense for his tax returns, there is no doubt that Fox and its various shows would have had his back.
The Christie debacle on Fox News Sunday is the first sign that the campaign’s decision to react to the tax return by stroking Trump’s ego instead of dealing with reality may be the final straw that forces Fox News to break with Trump.