With less than two weeks before the 2020 presidential election, a recent report from The New York Times spurred controversy involving President Donald Trump’s finances and foreign relationships.
An analysis of Trump’s tax records obtained by the NYT allegedly revealed Trump has spent a decade pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.
After numerous claims of business dealings between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and China made by the Trump 2020 campaign, the NYT claims Trump maintains bank accounts in China, Britain and Ireland.
The NYT reported Senate Republicans previously produced a report asserting Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, opened a bank account with a Chinese businessman. The claim, among others, was said to be an example of Joe Biden’s connections to foreign governments around the world.
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University of Wisconsin Assistant Professor of Communication Arts Allison Prasch said it is unclear how this information will impact the election, but she thinks it will certainly get people to ask more questions about the recent reports.
“There is a lot that’s swirling around China,” Prasch said. “I’m not sure at this moment what this revelation necessarily does beyond the fact of saying people need to ask more questions and there needs to be additional research and work done.”
Prasch, an expert on U.S. presidential rhetoric and foreign policy, said the new information could contribute to the discourse surrounding China during the remaining time leading up to the election — particularly in the upcoming debate. China has become somewhat of a buzzword this election season, Prasch said.
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Though business relationships have been a primary line of attack for both presidential candidates during this campaign season, Prasch said this information is likely to just add more noise for everyday voters.
While Biden could certainly use the claims to discredit Trump in the upcoming debate, both parties may choose to focus on issues relating to the pandemic in light of the new information, Prasch said.
“In a moment where there is great uncertainty about daily life, the future of the year let alone the next decade in terms of where our country is going, what people want in times of uncertainty is a leader they can trust,” Prasch said.
Prasch said both campaigns are actively trying to convince the American people that their candidate is the more trustworthy one, and stories such as the recent NYT report may undermine credibility. She said it is up to citizens to read through sources of information and seek additional information.
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Lawyer Alan Garten of The Trump Organization told the NYT the company opened an account with a Chinese bank that had offices in the U.S in order to pay local taxes associated with efforts to do business there, according to the NYT. Additionally, Garten reportedly said no business activities ever materialized, and the office has been inactive since 2015.