President-elect Donald Trump has signaled that he will not disclose his tax returns, even to dispel recent allegations that the Russian government has compromising intelligence on his finances. Trump stated that if the American people did not care about his tax returns during the campaign, then they will not care now that he is president.
On Jan. 11, Trump held his first press conference since July 2015. Reporters on the scene asked the president-elect if he would release his tax returns following the recent allegations that Russia is using his financial ties to blackmail him.
"I'm not releasing the tax returns because, as you know, they're under audit," Trump responded, according to CNN. The president-elect added: "You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They're the only ones."
Since the GOP primary in early in 2016, Trump has asserted that an ongoing audit on his finances has legally prevented him from disclosing his tax returns. The IRS has previously stated that an ongoing audit would not disqualify someone from making their tax returns public.
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"Nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information," the IRS stated in February 2016, The Hill reports.
During the press conference, Trump told one inquiring reporter that he believed that the American people were not concerned about his taxes because he had won the election.
"I won," Trump said. "And became president. No, I don't think they care at all. I don't think they care at all. I think you care."
On Jan. 10, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 60 percent of American adults believed that Trump was obligated to release his tax returns, while only 33 percent believed that he did not have such a responsibility.
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Following the publication of an unsubstantiated intelligence dossier that alleged the Russian government had compromising financial and personal information on Trump, allies of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took to social media to blast the president-elect for continuing to withhold his tax returns, USA Today reports.
"There's a reason all pres candidates traditionally release tax returns and have full financial transparency," tweeted out former Clinton campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin. "Blackmail should be impossible."
Neera Tanden, who had served as Clinton's 2008 campaign manager, tweeted out: "Couldn't we help figure some of this out if he released his taxes… oh yeah, maybe that's why he never did."
Shortly after Trump's press conference, Republican Sen. Mark Sanford released a statement urging the president-elect to release his tax returns to avoid the risk of setting a new precedent for presidential candidates' financial transparency.
"If President-elect Trump wants us to take him at his word, then certainly he should hold true to his former promises to make his tax returns public," Sanford said.