Donald Trump's two most well-known lackeys - Gov. Christie and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani - believe that not paying federal income taxes somehow makes their choice for president a genius.

But in discussing Trump's ability to dodge income taxes for nearly 20 years, Christie and Giuliani failed to mention his string of business failures in the 1990s, including three bankrupt Atlantic City casinos and the short-lived Trump Airlines.

Has there ever been another so-called business genius who benefited so spectacularly from failing?

The New York Times obtained a portion of Trump's 1995 income tax returns, which showed he declared a $916 million loss that year. The deduction could have allowed Trump to legally avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years.

Trump did not deny the report. Instead, he sent Christie and Giuliani on the TV talk-show circuit to make the ridiculous talking point that The Donald is a genius.

Trump has used his Twitter soapbox to claim he knows the complex federal tax laws "better than anyone who has ever run for president" and he is "the only one who can fix them." But it would take a huge stretch of the imagination to envision Trump ever fixing or eliminating tax laws that he has exploited to pad his wealth.

In fact, Trump's former accountant for 30 years told the Times that Trump asked few questions about his tax returns. Translation: Most of Trump's expert knowledge about the tax code is in his accountant's head.

Of course, Trump's massive, years-long tax dodge explains in part why the Republican nominee for president has refused to make his tax returns public, breaking with decades of tradition in past presidential contests.

But the Times story is based only on a three-page snapshot of Trump's tax returns. When it comes to Trump's wheeling and dealing, that is likely just the tip of the iceberg.

Other questions abound that would shed light on Trump's character and record. Such as how much is he actually worth? Trump says $10 billion. In July, Bloomberg News estimated it was $2.9 billion.

Is Trump as generous as he claims? The real estate mogul said he gave $102 million to charity over the past five years. But the Washington Post reported in April that none of Trump's listed donations appeared to come from his personal funds. Instead, the giving included items like free rounds at his golf courses provided to support charitable events.

Does Trump carry much debt? If so, who does he owe? Trump says he has more than 120 foreign deals under negotiation, stretching from Azerbaijan to China to Turkey. If elected, would any of Trump's foreign business deals pose a conflict of interest with U.S. policy?

Most voters say Trump should follow the lead of Hillary Clinton and other past presidential candidates and release his tax returns.

Having never held elective office, Trump's appeal is based on his supposed business skills. But many of his ventures have gone bust. Some, like Trump University, have been shams.

Now comes news of a nearly $1 billion loss that Trump likely used to avoid paying income taxes for years. Each day it becomes clearer that much of Trump's success comes at the expense of others.