U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged that he may owe $400 million to unknown sources during a town hall television event on Thursday.
The amount was originally revealed after a New York Times investigation that also claims Trump paid around $750 in taxes in the 2016 and 2017 tax years and no taxes for 10 of the last 15 years.
“When you look at the amount of money, $400 million is a peanut, it is extremely underlevered (sic),” Trump told NBC host Savannah Guthrie. “It is levered with normal banks, not a big deal.”
While Trump said “levered,” he most likely meant leveraged, which means money was borrowed to invest in an expected profitable venture.
Trump said that he doesn’t owe the money to Russia or any “sinister people.” When asked if he owes it to any foreign bank or entity, he replied, “Not that I know of.”
When asked directly whether he has over $400 million in debt, as the Times claims, Trump responded, “It is a tiny percentage of my net worth.”
“That sounds like yes (you are confirming,)” Guthrie replied.
There is concern that Trump’s debt could be a national security risk to the U.S. as it could be used to influence the president’s decision-making.
“Why would banks assume the risk on these loans?” Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics attorney in Republican George W. Bush’s White House Painter, said when the news first broke.
“Or did someone else quietly assume risk of that loan for the bank to make it happen?”
Trump previously has said he has “very little debt” and has highlighted the amount of debt compared to his alleged net worth.
When asked whether he paid $750 in tax for the 2016 and 2017 tax years on Thursday, Trump said it is a “statutory number” and he thinks it is a “filing number” and claimed the New York Times’ numbers were wrong.
-With files from the Associated Press