Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Tuesday offered Hillary Clinton a deal. If the Democratic nominee somehow recovered and publicly released the 33,000 deleted emails she sent while serving as secretary of state, the real estate businessman would release his tax returns “immediately.”
In an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, Trump reiterated his long-held stance that he would release his tax returns only after the IRS had conducted a “routine audit.”
“When the audit is complete I will release my returns. I don’t know when that’s going to be,” he said. “But when the audit is complete, I’ll release my returns. I have no problem with it. It doesn’t matter.”
The IRS, however, has said individuals are not prohibited from sharing tax information while being audited. There is even precedent for doing so ― former President Richard Nixon released his returns while under audit. Moreover, there is nothing stopping Trump from releasing previous returns for years not currently under audit.
But when O’Reilly pressed him about releasing his tax returns despite them being under audit, Trump attempted to turn the tables on Clinton ― and ended up unwittingly admitting there was nothing prohibiting him from doing so.
“When is she going to release her emails? She probably knows how to find it,” he said. “Let her release her emails and I will release my tax returns immediately.”
“The fact is, you get very little information from the tax return,” he added.
Actually, you can learn a lot from someone’s tax return ― especially from a businessman like Trump, whose net worth has been under question. It could clarify if he’s a tax cheat, how much he gives to charity and whether he earns income from investments abroad, particularly in places like Russia.
The information could be particularly damaging at this stage of the campaign. Eric Trump, a son of the former reality TV personality, intimated as much last month.
“You would have a bunch of people who know nothing about taxes trying to look through and trying to come up with assumptions on something they know nothing about. It would be foolish to do,” he said.
Even some of Trump’s supporters think he ought to release his tax returns before the election. Roger Stone, a longtime Republican political operative, said the GOP nominee ought to do so “immediately.” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) warned last month his ability to support Trump would hinge in part on seeing the tax returns.
Clinton maintained Tuesday that her Republican opponent was “dead wrong” when he said voters did not care about a candidate’s tax returns. Indeed, a Monmouth University poll released last week showed that 62 percent of voters think it’s either very important or somewhat important to them that presidential candidates release their returns.
Trump also tried pegging his disclosures to the release of Clinton’s emails last August and October, before ultimately settling on the audit explanation as the GOP primary heated up.