NEW YORK (AP) – President Donald Trump endorsed a congressman facing a tough primary battle, but in doing so he misstated the New York Republican’s record on taxes.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Trump said U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan is “strong on Borders,” ”loves our Military” and “voted for Tax Cuts.”
But Donovan was one of just a few Republicans who voted against the Trump-backed tax law that passed last year.
FILE – In a May 5, 2015 file photo, Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan thanks supporters while giving an acceptance speech during an election night gathering, in the Staten Island borough of New York after he won the 11th Congressional District seat vacated in January by former Congressman Michael Grimm. President Donald Trump endorsed U.S. Rep. Donovan Wednesday, May 30, 2018, but in doing so he misstated the New York Republican’s record on taxes.(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
Donovan defended the vote on Thursday, saying the legislation slashed deductions for state and local taxes, which would lead to higher tax bills for many New Yorkers.
He said the president was aware of his vote.
Donovan is facing a challenge from former U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm, who resigned after pleading guilty to tax fraud in 2015.
Trump and Donovan first spoke about the race last week while flying back to Washington aboard Air Force One after a joint appearance in New York, Donovan said in an interview Thursday. The president also called Donovan on Wednesday night after posting the tweet.
“He was very encouraging. I told him we are here to help move his agenda forward,” Donovan said.
Wednesday’s endorsement was the result of roughly two months of discussions between the White House and Donovan’s campaign, according to Donovan spokeswoman Jessica Proud. She said the specific content of the tweet was not discussed ahead of time.
Trump incorrectly wrote that Donovan voted for the GOP tax plan. He did not.
“The president was well aware. We’ve had discussions about my tax vote, the president and I,” Donovan told The Associated Press.
Donovan has consistently argued that the Republican tax plan would have a negative effect on some of his constituents.
“The president has to look at things of what’s good for 330 million people,” Donovan said. “My No. 1 responsibility is for the 740,000 people that I represent.”
How does the endorsement change Donovan’s race against Grimm?
“It allows the people who have been hearing the false narrative from my opponent realize that it was false, that he was again trying to deceive them about my relationship with the president, my support of the president,” Donovan told the AP. “There’s already been calls for him to suspend his campaign, and it happened 12 hours ago.”
Grimm was unmoved.
“All the endorsements in the world can’t change the facts,” Grimm tweeted on Wednesday night. “Donovan has failed to pass even one substantive bill into law, and has voted against President Trump every time it’s mattered – from failing to repeal Obamacare, to banning sanctuary cities, and even against tax cuts.”
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