Buffett rebukes Trump, questions his business skill

Mon Aug 1, 2016 11:57pm EDT
 
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By Amanda Becker

OMAHA, Neb. (Reuters) - Billionaire investor Warren Buffett on Monday campaigned alongside U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rowdy rally in his home state of Nebraska, where he challenged Republican Donald Trump to release his tax returns and questioned Trump's business acumen.

Trump, a New York real estate developer making his first run at public office, has said he cannot release his tax returns, a ritual of U.S. presidential campaigns, until the Internal Revenue Service has completed an audit.

“Now I’ve got news for him," said Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway BRKa.N conglomerate is based in Omaha. "I'm under audit, too, and I would be delighted to meet him anyplace, anytime, before the election.

“I'll bring my tax return, he can bring his tax return ... and let people ask us questions about the items that are on there,” Buffett added, saying Trump was “afraid” not of the tax-collecting IRS but of voters.

In response, Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks said: “As you know, Mr. Trump is undergoing a routine audit.” She had no immediate comment when asked to respond to Buffett saying that he too was under audit but would release his tax returns.

Trump has asserted his success as a businessman qualifies him to lead the country, but Buffett, who backs Clinton in the Nov. 8 election, said Trump lost money the only time he went to the American people and asked them to invest.

He said it was in 1995 when Trump listed his Trump hotels and casino resorts on the New York Stock Exchange. He said the company lost money every year for the next decade. A monkey would have outperformed Trump's company, Buffett said.

In 1995, "if a monkey had thrown a dart at the stock page, the monkey on average would have made 150 percent," he said.   Continued...

 
Warren Buffet speaks to U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supporters during a campaign rally in Omaha, Nebraska, December 16, 2015.   REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom