Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway Sunday made it official: President Donald Trump will not release his tax returns.
"The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns," Conway, a key Trump adviser, said on ABC's "This Week."
"We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are — are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like."
Throughout the election campaign, Trump said he would not release his returns while they were under Internal Revenue Service audit and repeatedly said no one cares about them except the press, most recently at his Jan. 11 news conference.
More than 216,000 people, however, have signed a whitehouse.gov petition put up Friday shortly after the inauguration, calling on Trump to release his returns immediately, well over the goal of 100,000 signatures needed by the Feb. 19 deadline for it to qualify for a White House response. Conway indicated her remarks were that response although the White House actually has 60 days.
An ABC/Washington Post poll released last week indicated 74 percent of Americans say Trump should release his tax returns, up from 60 percent in a Pew Research Center poll released earlier in the month.
Trump is the first president or presidential candidate to decline to release his returns in four decades. Experts say the returns could reveal conflicts of interest, show how much money he actually gives to charity and show his effective tax rate.
Documents obtained by the New York Times in October indicated he may have avoided paying any federal taxes for 18 years as the result of a $916 million loss on his Atlantic City, New Jersey, casinos in the 1990s. He said during the campaign his canny use of tax loopholes make him smart.
Trump has said he would put all of his assets into a trust and turn over operations of the Trump Organization to his sons. Ethics experts, however, have said that’s woefully inadequate to assure against conflicts of interest, but without the tax returns, there’s no way to judge exactly how serious the conflicts would be.