Donald Trump Jr. has offered a new reason for why his father is refusing to release his tax returns saying that allowing the American people to see the details of his financial dealings would lead to a wave of media interest and “detract” from his core messaging.
Though Trump has consistently said that an ongoing federal audit is the reason he won’t release his return, his son’s explanation to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was much closer to what many people have always assumed to be true: the returns would be a trove of interest for investigative journalists and curious voters trying to understand the billionaire’s finances.
“Because he’s got a 12,000-page tax return that would create … financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from [his father’s] main message,” Trump Jr. said.
Translating the argument, Eric Levitz, political writer for New York Magazine, put it this way: “If people knew more about the Republican nominee’s finances, it would hurt him politically.”
As CNN‘s reporting notes, Trump Jr.’s explanation represents a “dramatic shift from the Republican nominee’s longtime explanation that an ongoing audit is preventing him from releasing his tax returns. (There are no laws barring Trump from disclosing his tax returns while he is being audited).” Previously, Eric Trump, another of Donald’s sons, suggested the American people would not be sophisticated enough to understand the complexities of his father’s financial dealings or tax filings.
Though Trump Jr. acknowledged there was a “precedent about [candidates releasing their taxes],” he told the Tribune-Review there’s “no law about it” and that “our tax guys would say, ‘hey it’s crazy'” to release them.
Watch the exchange:
At one point, asked if he trusted the American people enough to absorb whatever the tax information contains, Trump Jr. explained that he simply didn’t trust the media and that “as a conservative I don’t think you get a fair shake. I do think there’s incredible bias coming through the media, coming through Hollywood. I mean, look at what happened to Matt Lauer. He asked a couple of real questions to a candidate for the first time ever and a couple people from the audience asked a few real questions and all of a sudden, ‘Oh my god, he asked her a question!’ It’s mind-boggling to me. I was like, welcome to our everyday. That’s what it’s like to be a conservative everyday.”
Questions surrounding transparency have dogged both major party candidates this election year. During her grueling effort to fight off a challenge from Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton steadfastly refused to release transcripts of paid speeches she gave to Wall Street banks.