Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has been pressured to release his tax returns for months, and that pressure has only increased as the businessman essentially clinched the GOP nomination when all of his opponents dropped out of the race.
Trump, however, has refused to oblige the demands that he release his returns, pointing to an ongoing audit by the Internal Revenue Service as his reason for refusal.
Critics, including some within his own party, have expressed concern over why the candidate has been so reluctant to release his tax information, but one unlikely Republican official recently came to Trump’s defense — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
Priebus appeared on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” on Friday, during which he was pressed about Trump’s refusal to release the returns.
The chairman, who has not always been Trump’s biggest ally within the party, brushed off the concerns and actually came to the candidate’s defense over the issue, saying that it’s unlikely that anyone actually cares.
“If he doesn’t release his tax returns, I don’t know if anyone cares or if it’s gonna have any effect,” Priebus said on the show, according to the Washington Examiner. “Certainly all of these other decisions he’s made have only helped him.”
You can see his comments here:
Priebus was likely right — Trump has not exactly run a typical presidential campaign, and he’s certainly not a typical candidate — but those factors and his decisions have only brought him great success with Republican voters, so why would this decision be any different?
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee has also commented about Trump’s decision to not release his tax returns.
In an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren, Huckabee noted that releasing that much financial information to the public is likely not a very smart move.
“Never help load a gun that’s pointed at your own head,” he said. “And when you release your tax returns, which the law does not require you to do, you release very detailed financial information in the financial disclosure.”
Some within the party have been skeptical about Trump’s reasoning behind the refusal, though. The candidate has pointed to the fact that his tax returns have been under IRS audit, but pundits have noted that an audit doesn’t prevent someone from releasing returns to the public.
In fact, after Trump made remarks at a February GOP debate about not releasing the returns while under audit, the IRS issued a statement in response.
Although the IRS cannot discuss individual tax situations, “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information,” the statement explained, according to USA Today.
Critics would argue that, because Trump has run on the premise of being a businessman who has been successful at managing finances and making profitable deals., his tax returns would be his “record,” similar to the “voting record” we look at for candidates who have been members of Congress.
But the GOP chairman and Huckabee’s points remain solid — do the tax returns even matter to voters? Would they make a difference in voters’ perception of Trump? Probably not.
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