Hogan Gidley, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said Monday that neither Congress nor the public has the right to see President Donald Trump’s tax returns as Democratic lawmakers fight to obtain them from the Treasury Department.
Trump “had to fill out financial disclosure forms when he decided to run for president,” Gidley said. “People can see those. They’re public. ... Democrats ran on this as a way to try and bludgeon Donald Trump saying he had done these things wrong in his taxes and it needed to be released.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) on Wednesday formally asked the Internal Revenue Service for six years of Trump’s personal and business tax information. He’s the first president in more than 40 years to refuse to release his tax returns.
In his letter to the Treasury Department, which oversees the IRS, 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. The law gives Congress the right to see the tax returns of any private citizen.
But Gidley on Monday claimed otherwise.
“The public has no right to see those,” Gidley told Fox News. “Congress definitely doesn’t have a right to see the tax returns of a private citizen, but also just think about the precedent that sets. Listen, this was already litigated. ... It’s never going to work.”
Trump in 2014 pledged to release his tax returns if he won the presidency. But he has refused to follow through, citing an alleged IRS audit. An audit would not prevent him from releasing his returns, and didn’t stop previous presidents from doing so.
The president’s excuses for not releasing his tax returns continued to evolve in 2017, when he claimed Americans simply don’t care “at all” about them anyway.
But a Pew Research Poll conducted in January found roughly 64% of Americans believe Trump has a responsibility to publicly release his tax returns.
Asked what the White House is prepared to do to make sure Democrats “never” see the president’s tax returns, Gidley said it’s something Trump’s outside legal counsel is addressing.
In a letter to the Treasury Department on Friday, Trump’s lawyers argued that requests for the release of his tax information “are not consistent with governing law.”
“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 on Monday. “No matter what we do, it’s never going to be enough.”
“It’s never good enough, because whatever Donald Trump does, [Democrats] hate,” he added. “They want to fight him at every turn. ... It’s disgusting.”