Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) said Thursday that he “would like to” see President Donald Trump’s taxes, but also argued that Trump’s false claim that he cannot release them because he is under IRS audit is “legitimate” ― though the IRS itself has refuted that.
“Yeah, I would like to,” Kennedy said when CNN asked about House Democrats formally seeking to obtain Trump’s taxes. “But I think he has — at least if you take the president at his word — a legitimate reason for not turning them over. He says he’s in the middle of an audit, and his CPAs say, ‘Don’t turn it over,’ and I take him at his word, and I respect that. I think all things being equal, I would like to see [the] president’s taxes. You know, I wouldn’t be averse to turning over my taxes. I don’t have anything to hide.”
House Ways and Means chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) on Wednesday formally asked the Treasury Department to disclose Trump’s taxes, which the president has long tried to avoid disclosing by falsely claiming that being under IRS audit means that he cannot release them.
The IRS has said that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information.” It also automatically audits both the president and vice president’s tax returns each year.
Trump trotted out the excuse again on Wednesday.
“I’ve been under audit for many years because the numbers are big, and I guess when you have a name, you’re audited,” Trump said. “But until such time as I’m not under audit, I would not be inclined to do it.”
During his 2016 campaign, Trump became the first major-party presidential nominee in 40 years to refuse to release his taxes.
The Treasury Department has said that it would evaluate the “legality” of Democrats’ request, potentially setting up a court battle.
Under an IRS provision, the House Ways and Means Committee and several other congressional committees are allowed to obtain anyone’s tax returns and release them to the full House or Senate. During the Watergate scandal in 1974, the Joint Committee on Taxation obtained President Richard Nixon’s tax returns and released them to the House.
While conceding that it’s within Neal’s “purview” to seek to obtain Trump’s taxes, Kennedy accused him of an “ulterior motive.”
“I think the chair hates President Trump,” he said Thursday, adding that congressional Democrats, currently conducting several investigations into the president and his administration, want “to give Trump as much trouble as they can.”