Donald Trump's former national security advisor has said the nation’s enemies will seek to exploit revelations about the president’s taxes.
Weighing in on the potential ramifications of the bombshell New York Times investigation that exposed the president's finances, HR McMaster, who was Mr Trump's US national security advisor from February 2017 to April 2018, said in an interview with CNN he believed the nation's "adversaries" would use the investigation's findings as means for "exploitation".
President Trump’s former national security adviser @LTGHRMcMaster reacts to the @nytimes reporting on Trump’s taxes: "The president may not have led by example at least in terms of paying taxes… It’ll be an issue… that our adversaries will try to exploit." pic.twitter.com/zVt6pVIGKJ— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) September 28, 2020
"In the military, the saying is, 'you lead by example,'" Mr McMaster said to CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Monday. "I'm sure that's what's going to be drawn into question — these reports that the president may not have led by example in terms of paying taxes and so forth."
Mr McMaster continued: "Our adversaries will take advantage of any issue that can be used to diminish confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes. So this is sure to be a topic of debate internally in the Untied States, but also it'll be an issue that our adversaries will try to exploit."
On Sunday, the New York Times published a deep dive into Mr Trump's finances, citing detailed tax records that the outlet says "portray a businessman who takes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year yet racks up chronic losses". According to the Times, Mr Trump paid little or no federal income taxes for years; he reportedly paid just $750 in both 2016 and 2017.
Mr McMaster's comments echoed similar concerns he expressed about how the president's recent conduct will be perceived internationally. Speaking to NBC News last week, the retired general lamented Mr Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power following the upcoming election, calling it a "gift to our adversaries".
"Well, what I think is that it's a gift to our adversaries, right, who want to shake our confidence in who we are, shake our confidence in our democratic principles and institutions and processes," he said.
Mr Trump responded to the New York Times report on Monday by calling it "nonsense" and "fake news".