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NYT: Vegas connections helped Trump engineer $21M windfall during 2016 race

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJudge rules to not release Russia probe documents over Trump tweets Trump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Obama to campaign for Biden in Florida MORE's tax records reveal that the president engineered a windfall of more than $21 million during his 2016 presidential run, The New York Times reported Friday.

A hotel Trump owns with casino mogul Phil Ruffin in Las Vegas made payments to several companies Trump controlled, and that money then flowed to the president himself. The hotel wrote off the payments as a business expense, the Times said.

The Times's story is based on tax records of the president. The newspaper previously reported after examining the president's tax records that he has paid little-to-no federal income taxes in recent years, including $750 in each of 2016 and 2017.

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The Times reported that the payments came at a time when Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was in need of funds and many of his businesses were losing money. The tax records don't indicate whether the payments helped Trump's campaign, his businesses, or both, the newspaper said.

Trump's tax records don't indicate exactly when the payments were made and where the joint venture between the president and Ruffin got the money to make them. But the Times noted that seven weeks before the 2016 election, the venture borrowed $30 million from City National Bank. Trump signed the loan documents and Ruffin personally guaranteed most of the loan amount in the event the business couldn't pay the loan.

Tax and campaign finance experts told the Times that the hotel's deduction of the payments would be problematic if the payments were not used for a legitimate business expense. The experts said that the payments could also be illegal campaign contributions if they were not legitimate and were used to finance Trump's 2016 campaign for the White House.

White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement to the Times that the article is “yet another politically motivated hit piece inaccurately smearing a standard business deal.” Deere also said that “during his years as a successful businessman, Donald Trump was longtime partners with Phil Ruffin and earned whatever payments he received.”

A spokesperson for Ruffin said that Ruffin was not involved in the hotel's day-to-day operations and that “all tax statements go to the people who work on his taxes.”