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Trump Makes No Apologies For Tax History: 'I Have Brilliantly Used Those Laws'

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And Hillary Clinton spent Monday attacking Donald Trump over his tax returns, or lack of tax returns. Trump isn't making any apologies about a New York Times story suggesting he may have gone for years without paying federal taxes. NPR's Scott Detrow was with the Trump campaign in Colorado.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: There was a bit of a knowing laugh from a Pueblo, Colo., crowd when Trump turned to the topic of taxes.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DONALD TRUMP: I've been saying from the beginning of this campaign how ridiculous, complex and, yes, unfair the tax system is. It is an unfair system and so complex that very few people understand it. Fortunately, I understand it.

DETROW: Understand it enough, he seemed to be implying, to claim a $900 million loss in 1995, as the Times reported this weekend and then, possibly, used the claim to avoid taxes for more than a decade.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: I have legally used the tax laws to my benefit and to the benefit...

(CHEERING)

TRUMP: ...Of my company, my investors and my employees. I mean, honestly, I have brilliantly used those laws.

DETROW: There's no way to know for sure because Trump hasn't released his returns. That's why the handful of pages in The New York Times are such a big deal. Democrats are sure to keep focusing on this. But Trump doesn't seem worried, even as he trails in most polls.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TRUMP: And when people make the mistake of underestimating me, that's when they are really in for their biggest surprise.

DETROW: The audience roared as Trump defended his business record. Afterwards, many shared Vic Barlish's view on the tax story.

VIC BARLISH: I don't pay more taxes than I have to either (laughter).

DETROW: But at this point in the race, it's more about the undecided voters than the people at the rally. And in a CNN poll released Monday, 86 percent of respondents said they viewed paying taxes as a civic duty.

Scott Detrow, NPR News, Denver, Colo.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.