On Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway stated that President Donald Trump would never release his tax returns, only to quickly reverse course on Monday, saying he would release them after they were done being audited.
A major flashpoint of Donald Trump’s candidacy, and now his presidency, is his ongoing failure to release any detailed financial disclosure about his taxes.
Every single major party candidate for president after 1976 has released at least one year of their tax returns. It is an essential gesture of transparency to ensure no candidate has unethical or compromising financial conflicts that cut against the duties of office. But Trump has resolutely refused to do so — unsurprisingly, since the little information that is already public suggests he may have violated tax law.
And furthermore, this excuse would only apply to his latest tax returns, as the IRS statute of limitations bans audits on returns from six or more years ago.
Yet in an appearance on NBC’s The Week on Sunday, Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway diverged from the audit excuse, telling George Stephanopoulos that Trump would never release his tax returns:
STEPHANOPOULOS: Final question, you mentioned a couple of the hundreds of thousands of people who sent in petitions on healthcare, talking about healthcare. You also have more than 200,000 petition the White House calling on President Trump to release his full tax returns with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.
Whenever 100,000 petition, that triggers the White House president. So what is the White House response?
CONWAY: The White House response is that he’s not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.
Conway’s claim that “people don’t care” is belied by the polls showing 74 percent of Americans want Trump to release his returns, and by the fact that a petition on the White House website demanding Trump’s taxes has earned 260,000 signatures and counting.
Monday morning, however, Conway reversed course yet again and went back to saying Trump would release his returns after he is done being audited:
On taxes, answers (& repeated questions) are same from campaign: POTUS is under audit and will not release until that is completed. #nonews
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) January 23, 2017
So Conway not only changed her position on Trump’s taxes twice in the span of 24 hours — she is also blatantly lying about ever having changed her position in the first place.
The American people deserve basic transparency from their president. And Conway and the White House are refusing to offer anything but obfuscation and mendacious mixed signals.