Twenty-four hours removed from The New York Times’ blockbuster report about President Donald Trump’s taxes — and those of his father, Fred — the reverberations were beginning to be felt in earnest.
“He may have to — he may have to give up those returns,” acknowledged Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, before adding: “If I was him, I wouldn’t want to give them up.”
The White House was — unsurprisingly — unmoved by the Times report, which suggested that the President and his father had evaded tax law repeatedly over the past several decades, and that Trump himself had reaped more than $400 million from his father’s various financial holdings.
“It’s a totally false attack based on an old recycled news story,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said during the daily briefing on Wednesday. She added that the Times piece was “a very boring 14,000-word story.” Pressed on whether Trump would reconsider his past refusals to release any of his tax returns from any year, Sanders said she was “not aware of any plans” to do so.
Which isn’t terribly surprising. After all, if Trump has been consistent about anything, it’s that he will continue to be the first President (and presidential candidate of a major party) in the modern era not to release his taxes. He made the calculation that whatever heat he takes for not releasing his returns is nothing compared to the storm kicked up by releasing any information on his finances to the public.
There is ONE complicating factor to the ongoing stonewalling from the White House: On tax day — April 17 — Sanders said that Trump had filed for an extension on his 2017 taxes “as do many Americans with complex returns.” She said at the time that Trump would file by the October 15 deadline.
That, for you calendar watchers out there, is in 12 days. Which is something! But remember that just because Trump files his 2017 taxes doesn’t mean the White House releases them.
The Point: Trump is dead-set on keeping his tax returns private. The “why” is an open question — dependence on his father’s wealth, being less rich than he says he is, ties (or debts) to Russia are all working theories. The one thing we do know is that there’s something in those returns Trump doesn’t want us to know about.