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Special Report

The politics of Trump's tax returns

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," October 3, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary Clinton's only experience in cyber security involves her criminal scheme to violate federal law, engineering a massive cover-up and putting the entire nation in harm's way.

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: He talks us down. He makes disparaging comments about our country. He calls our military a disaster. Well, it's not, but it might have been if everybody else had failed to pay taxes to support our brave men and women in uniform.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the stump today as we have some new polls. First of all, the FOX average of recent polls, this is national average. It's a race that includes the Libertarian Party and the Green Party as well. And you can see here that Hillary Clinton has a plus 2.2 up in the average of these recent polls. Here in Virginia, new poll out has Clinton up 42 percent to Trump's 35 percent. That is from Christopher Newport University. And then Quinnipiac came out with four state polls, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and you can take a look at how this breaks down. Ohio, the big driver for Donald Trump. But you see Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, very close, within the margin of error in those polls, the state polls form Quinnipiac.

Let's bring in our panel out here on site: Syndicated columnist George Will, Heidi Przybyla, senior political reporter for USA Today, and Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times.

OK, George, today on the trail a lot of talk about taxes. Hillary Clinton really hitting Donald Trump. Donald Trump saying she hasn't created a job.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: She hasn't created a job. And he has done what I think most Americans want to do, which is minimize their tax obligation. And all of this controversy, what no one said is that anything he has done is illegal. It's an old saying that what is really shocking in America isn't what's done in and by Washington that is illegal by that what is done in and by Washington that's legal. And if there's any system in the world that is rigged, to use Mr. Trump's favorite word, it's the American tax code which is constructed by the well-lawyered, the well- represented, the well-lobbied for. It just happens that he happened to benefit from this. But, again, I'm not sure the American people are going to say, gosh, he shouldn't have used the loopholes that the people's representatives wrote.

BAIER: The tax lawyers will say it's not a loophole. It's written in there. And carried forward is used by all kinds of people, including companies like GE and The New York Times and others. But she is hitting hard, Heidi, on the loss.

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, USA TODAY: Exactly.

BAIER: The 1995 loss of $1 billion and saying, "Here's my question -- what kind of genius loses $1 billion in a single year." Does that play?

PRZYBYLA: This is where I think things get complicated for Trump because this isn't just one story that's going to live and die in the 24-hour news cycle. The New York Times has here identified a massive loss. We don't know whether it was accumulated over several years and then reported in 1995, where this is coming from, but it raises a lot of questions. And it cuts right to the question of Trump's record as a successful businessman.

It could very well be that in other years he had gains which offset that. But this is going to start the drumbeat then for him to release those returns, prove that they were profitable, and prove that, in fact, he is a successful businessman, which is really the whole reason for his campaign and his sales pitch to a lot of these struggling middle class voters. He's told them, I can do for you and do for the country what I did for my businesses.

BAIER: Charlie, who is this affecting? Who is this changing? Is anybody's vote changing based on this tax story?

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: I don't think so at all because, as George said, people aren't -- don't identify with people that want to pay more taxes if they just had -- if they ignored certain loopholes. I think Heidi is right.

But the problem is that, you know, Donald Trump, I think the reason that he has seen some trouble in the last couple of days has more to do with the incredible media coverage after the first debate, panning him, saying he got -- you know, he didn't have his best performance. And her performance was -- she was basically herself, which is not a very appealing thing either. And he missed a lot of opportunities to hit her on certain things. But I don't think it was nearly as bad as the media has portrayed it. But I think the buildup of media coverage about that debate has probably -- is the bigger reason why we're seeing some movement in a lot of these polls.

BAIER: I do want to clear up one thing. Here is Donald Trump today talking about mental health issues and the military, specifically PTSD.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you talk about the mental health problems when people come back from war and combat and they see things that maybe a lot of folks in this room have seen many times over and you are strong and you can handle it, but a lot of people can't handle it. And they see horror stories. They see events that you couldn't see in a movie, nobody would believe it. We need a mental health help and medical. And it's one of the things that I think is least addressed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Now, a lot of people jumped on that. A lot of people said he was making fun of PTSD or something. Chad, who was the veteran who asked Trump the question about PTSD, put out a statement saying "I think it's sickening anyone would twist Mr. Trump's comments to me in order to pursue a political agenda. I took his comments to be thoughtful and understanding of the struggles many veterans have and I believe he is committed to helping them." George, it seems like every story has sort of a little bit of an anti-Trump feel to it in the past few days.

WILL: It really does. Mr. Trump in a way gives people running room do this because he is sometimes syntactically challenged as he wanders through some of his sentences. But it really is perverse to say he in some way was insulting these people just as, I must say, it's perverse to say that Hillary Clinton was disparaging young people when she said some of Bernie Sanders people are living in their parents' basements. She was saying, I think in any fair construction, that the economy is -- that we inherited from the great recession caused that to happen.

BAIER: Quickly, we could see this other shoe drop with WikiLeaks, some email, and that story continues. We learn that the immunity deal included destroying Cheryl Mills' computer. That doesn't help the Clinton folks.

PRZYBYLA: No. I feel like both gentlemen are correct in terms of the media pile on. And it goes both ways. A few weeks ago, we were all on the Clinton Foundation story. And all it takes is one major blockbuster headline like that for the flow to then go in reverse and for Hillary Clinton to be kind of back on her heels again. We don't know what's in this WikiLeaks bombshell being promised tomorrow. I'm sure we're all waiting with baited breath. I just don't think we can make that prediction based on what we have seen so far. I kind of feel like the Russians, if they are behind this, would have tried to get the worst stuff out there a week or two ago. But we just have to wait and see what it is.

BAIER: It could be a jump ball to deal with on debate tomorrow. Last word on this.

HURT: I have been amazed in the last couple of weeks the degree to which this e-mail scandal, given the fact everybody already knew basically a lot of the larger contours of the story, how much it has actually hurt her. And I think it has contributed a lot to that and the fact that Donald Trump had a good run there of making fewer mistakes than usual. So I have been surprised. So no telling what could -- if there is something blockbuster, I think we will see it reflected down the road.

BAIER: And the honest and trustworthy numbers obviously are interesting.

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