As House Democrats prepare for a potential legal battle to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered a new reason why Congress shouldn’t be allowed to see them.
“I don’t think Congress, particularly not this group of congressmen and women, are smart enough to look through the thousands of pages that I would assume President Trump’s taxes will be,” Sanders told “Fox News Sunday.”
She added: “My guess is most of them don’t do their own taxes, and I certainly don’t trust them to look through the decades of success that the president has and determine anything.”
Trump is the first president in more than 40 years to refuse to release his tax returns to the public, though Democratic lawmakers hope to change that.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) wrote a letter to the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS, earlier this month to request six years of Trump’s personal and business tax information.
In his letter, Neal cited a 1924 law that states the treasury secretary “shall furnish ... any return or return information specified” in a request from the head of the House or Senate tax-writing committees.
On Saturday, Democrats warned the IRS that it has until April 23 to comply or face a potentially lengthy legal challenge after the Treasury Department failed to provide the documents to the committee last week.
Sanders on Sunday would not say whether Trump will encourage the IRS to hand over his tax returns to the House committee.
“We’ll have to see what happens on that front,” she told Fox News.
Sanders said Trump has no plans to release his taxes to the public while they’re being audited. The president has repeatedly claimed an ongoing IRS audit is preventing him from releasing his tax documents to the public.
But an audit wouldn’t block him from releasing his tax returns, and hasn’t stopped previous presidents from doing so.
Sanders’ suggestion that Congress is too stupid to comprehend tax documents marks the latest addition to the Trump team’s ever-evolving list of excuses for hiding away the president’s tax returns.
In 2014, Trump vowed to release his tax returns if he ran for president. He later said he couldn’t provide the documents because he was being audited. When that reason proved untrue, he claimed Americans simply don’t care “at all” about them anyway. (A HuffPost/YouGov poll released this week showed 56% of Americans believe Trump should release his tax returns to the public.)
Last week, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney vowed Democrats would “never” see Trump’s tax returns. White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley doubled down on Mulvaney’s comments a day later, claiming Congress and the public have “no right” to see them.
“The president has said multiple times to the press corps, in meetings ... saying, ‘I’m not inclined to release those documents,’” Gidley told Fox News. “No matter what we do, it’s never going to be enough.”