Trump won’t release tax returns after all, breaking campaign vow and 40 years of tradition, because ‘people didn’t care’
Donald Trump will not release his tax returns even after repeated promises to do so after a supposed audit, one of his senior advisers said on Sunday, confirming that the US President will break a 40-year tradition and not show Americans the extent of his financial interests and obligations.
Kellyanne Conway, a senior counsellor to the president, told ABC’s This Week the Trump administration would do nothing about calls to release the information.
“The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns,” she said. “We litigated this all through the election.”
The broken promise alienated WikiLeaks, which for months during the campaign released hacked Democratic emails, which Trump often seized on to denigrate his opponent Hillary Clinton.
On Sunday, the group tweeted : “Trump’s breach of promise over the release of his tax returns is even more gratuitous than Clinton concealing her Goldman Sachs transcripts.”
The organisation then asked for someone to give them the tax returns , in order to achieve their publication.
Speaking to ABC, Conway contradicted polls that show most Americans want to see the returns when she said: “People didn’t care.
“They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: most Americans … are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.”
Last week, a Washington Post-ABC poll showed that 74 per cent of Americans, including 53 per cent of Republicans, want to see Trump’s returns. In October, a CNN poll found that 73 per cent of registered voters, including 49 per cent of Republicans, wanted to see the tax returns.
A petition on the White House website that calls for the immediate release of the returns and “all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance” had 218,465 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.
The returns could show the breadth of Trump’s financial interests around the world, including where he does business, who his partners are and to whom he owes money. They could also help show how rich - or not - he is.
Ethics experts fear Trump’s business liabilities could affect White House policy and how the president spends taxpayer dollars: for instance, how he may deal with banks that own hundreds of millions of his debt, treat foreign nations that curry favour or become real estate partners, or reshape domestic policy to accommodate his interests.
Earlier this month, Trump repeated his campaign contention that he would not release the returns because “they’re under audit”. No law prohibits the release of tax returns during an audit; Trump’s lawyers have said he is under audit , but they have not provided any proof that he is actually under audit. The IRS has repeatedly declined to comment on the audit status of any single citizen.
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised to release his tax returns after the supposed audit. In May, for instance, he said : “As soon as the audit ends I’ll release my returns.” He also tweeted : “I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!”
In October, a partial extract from Trump’s 1995 tax returns were published by the New York Times, which acquired the records through an anonymous source and verified them with the businessman’s former accountant.
The returns showed that Trump lost US$916million in a single year and could used that loss to avoid paying federal taxes for 18 years, a charge he did not deny.
Conway also insisted that Trump and his family “are complying with all the ethical rules, everything they need to do to step away from his businesses and be a full-time president”.
There is no record that Trump has stepped away from any of his businesses, which owe hundreds of millions in debts to large banks, span across the US, Europe and Asia, and which may have already put him in violation of the constitution’s prohibition against payments from foreign governments.
In a press conference earlier this month, aides refused to let reporters look inside stacks of documents presented at a press conference, that allegedly catalogued his efforts to separate himself from his businesses.
Trump has refused to divest or set up a blind trust, instead saying without evidence that he has handed control of his companies to his two adult sons. Ethics attorneys have repeatedly said Trump has not taken effective steps to prevent conflicts of interest.