Donald Trump Jr. was busy recently, talking about his father's...

Donald Trump Jr. was busy recently, talking about his father's tax returns, making a comment about gas chambers and cutting short an interview about a $20,000 painting. July 19, 2016 Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite

Don’t ask, won’t tell

Donald Trump’s standard excuse for not releasing his tax returns is that he’s under an epic IRS audit. But Donald Trump Jr. gives another reason: The public might be too interested for the campaign’s good.

“He’s got a 12,000-page tax return that would create ... financial auditors out of every person in the country, asking questions that would detract from [Trump’s] main message,” Trump Jr. told editors and reporters at Pittsburgh’s Tribune-Review.

His brother Eric Trump made similar comments to CNBC in August. “You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on things that they know nothing about,” he said.

However complex they are, the returns would answer some simple questions, such as: How much, if anything, has Trump paid in taxes? Can he back up his boasts on charitable giving? Would they show financial interests — overseas, for example — that the public would want to know about?

Born in the U.S.A.

Five years after becoming the loudest voice of the “birthers” — the conspiracy theorists who claimed President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States — Trump’s campaign says he now believes Obama’s Hawaii birth certificate is real.

And in a Trumpian jiujitsu twist, the statement sought to shift blame for floating the birther story to “Clinton and her team” in her 2008 campaign — a claim fact-checkers dismiss. Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the businessman deserves credit for discrediting the birthers “by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate.”

The statement came hours after publication of a Washington Post interview in which Trump refused to walk back his birther statements. Last year, Trump said he still wasn’t convinced Obama was U.S.-born.

ADL: Alt right there

Alt-right sensibilities have crept into the retweets and Twitter followings from Trump Tower, including those of Trump Jr. So reaction was quick when his complaint on a Philadelphia radio station that Hillary Clinton’s wrongs got too little criticism from the media included this line:

“If Republicans were doing that, they’d be warming up the gas chamber right now.” The Anti-Defamation League responded via Twitter: “We hope you understand the sensitivity and hurt of making Holocaust jokes. We hope you retract.”

He did not. The campaign said “Don Jr. was clearly referring to capital punishment” — not Nazi death camps.

No wall between them

As Newsday's Yancey Roy reports, Trump told an Albany radio station that he and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo "get along very well, very well." He said they've talked a lot, and did so for a while at the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony in New York City.

Big Bill's bash

Bill Clinton is turning 70, and his birthday party at the ritzy Rainbow Room Friday evening in Manhattan doubles as a fundraiser for the Clinton Foundation. It features John Bon Jovi, Wynton Marsalis and Barbra Streisand and costs thousands of dollars to attend. 

According to Politico, it'll cost "$250,000 to be listed as a chair for the party, $100,000 to be listed a co-chair and $50,000 to be listed as a vice-chair." 

Hillary Clinton, who's emerged on the campaign trail while recovering from pneumonia, is not expected. This final fundraiser comes weeks before the Clintons may have to distance themselves from the Foundation. Some Clinton advisers reportedly think it's a bad idea because it will inevitably draw more attention to the couple's close ties to major donors

Clinton shares a secret

Back on the campaign trail after her pneumonia hiatus, Clinton came as close as she ever has, and maybe ever will, to acknowledging that her preoccupation with privacy has been a political liability.

“When it comes to public service, I am better at the service part than the public part,” said Clinton. In a news conference after her speech, Clinton dodged questions about when she informed running mate Tim Kaine about her illness.

The take-away: Trump’s Flint tale

Trump meekly complied Wednesday when a Flint, Michigan, pastor told him to stop making political attacks from her church’s pulpit.

On Thursday morning, in the safe space of a phone-in with “Fox & Friends,” Trump went after Pastor Faith Green Timmons and called her a “nervous mess.” His account of what happened is at odds with what observers saw and what video shows, writes Newsday’s Dan Janison.

Generation gap

The latest batch of bad-news polls for Clinton includes a particularly worrisome trend — 26 percent of voters under the age of 29 support Libertarian Gary Johnson and another 10 percent back the Green Party’s Jill Stein.

The Clinton campaign is sending progressive icons Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to campaign for her this weekend in Ohio. On Monday, Clinton will give a speech in Philadelphia “laying out the stakes of November’s election for millennial voters,” her campaign announced.

The Fox News and New York Times/CBS polls showed the race essentially tied. New state polls have Trump ahead in Ohio, Colorado and Iowa, while Clinton hangs on to smaller leads in Virginia and Michigan.

Trump’s economic reboot

Donald Trump expanded his economic vision for the country and introduced a scaled-back tax-cut plan that he said would create at least 3.5 percent average annual growth and 25 million jobs during the next decade.

Trump’s numbers in his speech to the Economic Club of New York were met with some skepticism, reports Newsday’s Emily Ngo.

What else is happening

  • Is Trump’s heart into restrained behavior? When Jimmy Fallon on “The Tonight Show” remarked, “You say some shocking things,” Trump replied, “But I’m trying not to any more.” Earlier however, he told the economic club audience that getting shunned for political incorrectness “only lasts about a week.”
  • Trump released a one-page summary from his physical last week that declared he’s in “excellent physical health,” Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports.
  • Trump has the greatest mirrors. Dr. Mehmet Oz asked him: “When you look in the mirror, what do you see?” He responded: “I see a person who is 35 years old.”
  • Both Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump cut short interviews that turned tough. He didn’t like a TV reporter’s query about the Trump foundation’s buying a $20,000 painting of his dad. She bristled when a Cosmopolitan writer cited her father’s 2004 statement calling pregnancy an “inconvenience for a business.”
  • Bill Clinton will headline his final fundraiser for the Clinton foundation on Friday at the Rainbow Room in New York.
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump should release his tax returns.
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