WASHINGTON ― Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) told constituents on Friday that she thinks President Donald Trump should release his tax returns, making her one of few Republicans to join a chorus of Democrats demanding that he do so.
“Do you think the president should release his tax returns so that we know whether he’s acting in the best interest of the American people?” asked a man at a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids.
“I think he should,” replied Ernst. The room erupted in cheers and applause.
Trump strung voters along for months as a candidate, saying he would release his tax returns after getting through an audit. He then continued to withhold them after getting elected, saying nobody cared anymore (polls have shown that’s untrue). It’s the first time in four decades that a presidential nominee has refused to make his or her tax returns public.
Democrats in Congress are demanding that Trump release his returns to answer questions about how much he’s worth, how much he’s paid in taxes, whether he’s relied on tax havens or other loopholes to avoid paying taxes, and whether he has conflicts of interest.
A handful of Republicans have pressed him on it. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said last month that she’s prepared to subpoena Trump for his tax returns to learn more about his business ties to Russia. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has said Trump should release them, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has floated the idea of passing a law requiring 2020 presidential candidates to produce their tax returns.
In the House, just two Republicans ― Reps. Mark Sanford (S.C.) and Walter Jones (N.C.) ― joined Democrats this month in calling on House and Senate committees with oversight of the Internal Revenue Service to request copies of Trump’s tax returns from the past decade. The committees have given no signs that they will do that.