Belying promises he made on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump will not release his tax returns, according to presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, who spoke Sunday to ABC's "This Week."
Despite widespread public demands that he do so, Conway said "he's not going to release his tax returns" and reiterated the spurious claim that people aren't interested in what the real estate mogul's returns contain.
"We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care," Conway said on Sunday. "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. And you know full well that President 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."
In fact, ABC News/Washington Post polling data released last week showed that 74 percent of all Americans, including 49 percent of Trump's own supporters, say he should release his tax returns. Furthermore, a WhiteHouse.gov petition calling on the newly sworn in president to "immediately release [his]...full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance," bears well over the threshold number of signatures to warrant action by the Trump administration. As of Monday morning, 260,812 people had signed the petition (under former President Barack Obama, the White House would review any petition with more than 100,000 signatures.)
The rest of Conway's assertion appears to be equally false. A ProPublica investigation published Friday showed Trump has not actually filed paperwork relinquishing control of his businesses to his children; while a team of ethics experts—including top constitutional scholars and former White House ethics lawyers—filed suit on Monday alleging Trump is violating the Constitution by illegally receiving payments from foreign governments.
During the 2016 campaign season, Trump justified not releasing his tax returns by stating he was under an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit.
"I don't mind releasing," he said during his first president debate with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. "I'm under a routine audit. And it'll be released. And as soon as the audit's finished, it will be released."
Conway walked back her flat refusal on Twitter Monday morning and reverted to the old excuse, saying: "POTUS is under audit and will not release until that is completed."
But as the Huffington Post points out:
The IRS has already stated that there is nothing preventing Trump from releasing his returns while they are under audit. The government agency, which is now under Trump's control, further stated that Trump's tax returns prior to 2009 are not even under audit at all. Trump claimed during the campaign that his lawyers didn't want him to release the returns.
Trump handed over his tax returns when they were under IRS audit to state officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as part of the legal process to apply for casino licenses in the states.
Meanwhile, activists hope to capitalize on momentum from Saturday's international women's marches to hold another day of action on Saturday, April 15, this one geared specifically toward Trump's taxes and conflicts of interest. The call took off online on Sunday following Conway's comments.
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 23, 2017
— Mike Levin (@MikeLevinCA) January 23, 2017
— Frank Lesser (@sadmonsters) January 23, 2017
WikiLeaks also responded to Conway's remarks, writing Sunday on Twitter:
Trump Counselor Kellyanne Conway stated today that Trump will not release his tax returns. Send them to: https://t.co/cLRcuIiQXz so we can.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 22, 2017