After many indications that he has no plans to release his tax returns and false claims that he can’t do so because he’s under an IRS audit, President Donald Trump now suggests that he may make the returns public after he leaves office.
In an interview conducted last week and published Thursday, Trump told The Economist he doubted that he would release his tax returns and insisted that only reporters are concerned about the issue, despite large public protests demanding Trump release them.
“Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters,” he said. “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them, actually. I did a good job.”
“I might release them after I’m out of office,” he added, after White House communications official Hope Hicks interrupted to say, “Once the audit is over.”
Trump is the first president in four decades to not unveil his tax information, raising questions about transparency and accountability regarding his business dealings. He has repeatedly kept up the charade that he will release them after the audit is complete, but the IRS has indicated that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information,” including being under audit.
Trump and White House officials have previously insisted the issue no longer matters because he won the election.
Democratic lawmakers renewed their calls for the president to release his tax returns after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin introduced Trump’s tax plan last month, partly because the plan’s provisions would likely benefit Trump himself.
Mnuchin joined Trump for the interview with The Economist, during which the president falsely claimed that his tax plan would place restrictions on the wealthy.
After Trump bragged that the plan would enact “the biggest tax cut in the history of the country,” a reporter pointed out that “the biggest winners from this tax cut, right now, look as though they will be the very wealthiest Americans.”
“I don’t believe that,” Trump responded. “Because they’re losing all of their deductions, I can tell you.”
But the proposed plan would significantly benefit the wealthy, as it cuts taxes on stocks and investments, reduces the corporate tax rate and eliminates the tax on millionaire heirs and heiresses.
Trump also claimed that he coined the phrase “priming the pump.”
From the transcript:
But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit?
It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll… you understand the expression “prime the pump”?
We have to prime the pump.
It’s very Keynesian.
We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?
Priming the pump?
Yeah, have you heard it?
Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just… I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Twitter account, which frequently corrects the president’s questionable command of the English language, pointed out on Thursday that the phrase originated in the 19th century.
At one point, Trump interrupted the interview to brag about “that beautiful Rose Garden,” pointing it out to The Economist’s reporters while speaking on an unrelated topic.