Trump 2020 press secretary inadvertently shows why Trump won’t release tax returns
President Donald Trump’s re-election press secretary went on Fox News on Monday to discuss special counsel Robert Mueller’s report, a summary of which was released this weekend. But during the TV appearance, she accidentally suggested that her boss has been opaque with his own documents because he has something to hide.
Back in February, Trump was asked by CBS News whether he would support making public Mueller’s report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. “I don’t know,” he responded. “It depends. I have no idea what it’s going to say.” Now that his handpicked attorney general has read the report and determined that it exonerated his campaign, Trump said Monday he’d be fine with releasing the full report.
On Fox News, Trump 2020 press secretary Kayleigh McEnany praised the president’s transparency on this matter.
“President Trump, he just said last hour, he is happy to let that happen,” she said. “It’s up, of course, to the Department of Justice to make that decision. But President Trump’s on board. He has done nothing wrong. And when you do nothing wrong you say, ‘Yeah, let’s see it all. Because there’s nothing there. There is no there there.’”
But that notion of prioritizing transparency when you have nothing to hide may not be as helpful to Trump’s case as McEnany thinks. While Trump now says he is okay with releasing the full Mueller report, he has a long history of refusing to release other records related to his own finances, health, education, and personal history.
For instance, Trump has yet to honor his campaign promise to release his tax returns. Throughout the 2016 campaign, he said he would make his returns public, as every other president has for decades — and then later said he would do so only after a “routine audit” by the Internal Revenue Service was completed.
According to his longtime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, Trump also sent threatening letters to the schools he attended making clear that they must not make his education records public — despite his own demands that then-President Barack Obama make his own educational records public.
Other examples abound. In lieu of releasing any medical records during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump’s campaign released only a letter from a doctor, who later admitted to have signed a memo drafted by Trump himself. Trump posed with a series of manila envelopes days before his 2017 inauguration that he claimed contained legal documents turning over control of his family business to his sons, but declined to make public what that alleged ethical firewall paperwork contained. Trump has also done nothing to promise the release of unused footage of his former NBC game show, even after a former contestant alleged he used racial slurs.
Just this week, the Trump administration refused a congressional request to provide information about his private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The president must be free to engage in discussions with foreign leaders without fear that those communications will be disclosed and used as fodder for partisan political purposes,” the White House counsel wrote in rebuffing House inquiries.