President Trump has long said that he’ll release his tax returns at the end of “a routine audit,” but in an interview with The Economist last week he offered a new plan: “I might release them after I’m out of office,” he said.
Mr President, can I just try you on a deal-making question? If you do need Democratic support for your tax plan, your ideal tax plan, and the price of that the Democrats say is for you to release your tax returns, would you do that?
I don’t know. That’s a very interesting question. I doubt it. I doubt it. Because they’re not going to … nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters. Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.
White House strategic communications director Hope Hicks jumped in right after this and repeated the stale and completely absurd line about waiting for the end of the audit, but Trump didn’t let that stand. “I might release them after I’m out of office,” he said.
He won’t though. If Trump didn’t release his tax returns when the country was clamoring to see them, then he won’t release them when he’s finished doing his damage. Being out of office would reduce the political fallout from whatever he’s hiding, perhaps making the release more likely. But don’t overthink this. He’s never releasing them. Not unless someone forces him.
Also, he’s wrong about nobody wanting to see his taxes “except for the reporters.” A poll conducted less than a month ago found that 80 percent of Americans still care about his tax returns and, on April 15, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in 150 cities for Tax Day protests. It’s clear that the people still care about Trump’s taxes. Trump just doesn’t care what they think.