Trump Breaks Promise to Release Tax Returns, Despite Petition With 220K Signatures

January 22nd 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

President Donald Trump previously promised that he would release his tax returns to the public — which would presumably include details about how he made his money, where he has debts, and how his policies could potentially enrich him personally — after the completion of an IRS audit.

But Trump's counselor, Kellyanne Conway, told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that Trump won't release his tax returns at all.

"The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns," Conway said. "We litigated this all through the election. People didn't care. They voted for him."

Does the public care? A new petition suggests the answer is "Yes."

A Whitehouse.gov petition asking for Trump to release his tax returns had attracted more than 220,000 signatures as of Sunday.

Under President Barack Obama, the White House said it would respond in 30 days or less to any petition that received 100,000 signatures. It's unclear how the Trump White House will respond to such petitions, but at least in this case, it seems that it will ignore the petition.

The Trump campaign's original argument for not releasing the returns was that Trump was under audit by the IRS.

The IRS does not prohibit people under audit from releasing returns if they choose: Even President Richard Nixon did so.

But Conway made no mention of Trump's audit on Sunday.

At issue is whether Trump has conflicts of interest that would allow him to make decisions that would fill his own pockets, without Congress or the American people knowing anything about it.

Trump could also be at risk for violating the so-called emoluments clause of the Constitution.

Article I, Section 9, forbids the president to receive anything of value from a foreign government or head of state without Congressional approval:

"No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state."

Without Trump's tax returns, it's difficult to know whether he is violating the emoluments clause. If he has, he could be subject to investigation and even impeachment.