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Thursday, July 27, 2017

When — if ever — will Donald Trump release his tax returns?

That’s the question journalists and commentators have been asking for months now, prompting the Republican nominee to repeatedly insist that he cannot do so while he is undergoing an IRS audit. But transcripts from over a dozen interviews he has given since 2011 show not only that he’s long overdue on his promises, but also that he has strategically changed his approach to this question, leaving contradictions along the way.

During the 2012 presidential election, Trump encouraged Mitt Romney to release his tax returns. Romney’s failure to do so until days before the general election has been interpreted as a fatal mistake.

A major voice in the birther campaign against President Barack Obama, Trump also spent that election cycle pledging to release his own tax returns once Obama released his long-form birth certificate — and a few years later, once Hillary Clinton released all her emails. Both Obama and Clinton followed through, but Trump did not release his returns.

Instead, he kept delaying, saying for several months that his campaign was “working on it” and that he would take action soon. Trump only began to mention the audit as a defense for failing to release his tax returns last February, even though — as his tax lawyers have proved — he has been under a continuous audit since 2002. If the audit was really such a serious obstacle, he should have brought it up well before last winter.

More than once, Trump has also pointed to financial statements he released last year, insisting that these documents contain information about his business and cash flows, while tax returns provide no useful information to voters.

However, tax returns could provide lots of missing information on Trump’s sources of income, including whether or not he in fact has ties to Russian oligarchs. But Trump — who says voters don’t deserve to have this information — has also circumvented questions about releasing even a summary of his taxes.

His defense rests on the argument that the public could identify discrepancies that the IRS audit by itself may not find, thus potentially making him pay more taxes. Still, the late President Nixon released his tax returns while under an audit, and Trump himself released his tax returns to state officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey while under audit in order to obtain a casino license.

The transcripts below have been condensed for brevity, and key lines have been bolded.

April 19, 2011: In an interview with ABC News, Trump pledges to release his tax returns once President Obama releases his long-form birth certificate.

TRUMP: I have a great company. I’ve done a great job. Which if I run, you’ll see what a great job. Because I’ll do a full disclosure of finances.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Including tax returns?

TRUMP: We’ll look at that. Maybe I’m going to do the tax returns when Obama does his birth certificate. I may tie my tax returns. I’d love to give my tax returns. I may tie my tax returns into Obama’s birth certificate.

STEPHANOPOULOS: All the candidates have released that in the past.

TRUMP: No, I don’t think they—I don’t think all… candidates do. But I think I may tie mine into his birth certificate. But I’ve built a great company. It’s a strong company. It’s an under-levered company. I’ve got a lot of cash and a tremendous net worth, far greater than even numbers that you’ve read.

April 27, 2011: While contemplating a run in the 2012 Republican primary, Trump tells ABC News’ Michael Falcone that he will release his tax returns “at the appropriate time.”

The following excerpt is from Stephanopoulos’ blog:

“That’s something I would be thinking about doing anyway. That is certainly something I’d be thinking about doing anyway. But before I do anything I have to make the decision in June and the first thing I’m going to be releasing will be financials,” Trump said.

Falcone asked again, will you fulfill that pledge that you made where you said I’m going to tie the birth certificate to my tax records?

“Yeah, at the appropriate time,” Trump responded.

“So you’ll do it?”

“Yeah, at the appropriate time I’m going to do it,” Trump told him.

January 18, 2012: On Fox News, Trump says Mitt Romney should release his tax returns.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: Has Governor Romney been boxed on this tax return thing, and if he called you up tonight and said, Donald, ‘What should I do about tax return thing, should I release them or not?’

TRUMP: I think first answer would have been good. It should have been delivered a certain way. But April 1st historically is the time that everybody gives them.

January 30, 2012: Again commenting on Romney’s campaign, Trump tells Fox News that releasing your tax returns is “a great thing.”

BRIAN KILMEADE: When you see some of the analysis on Mitt Romney’s tax records, would that be a repellent for you, for Donald Trump to reveal everything?

TRUMP: I actually think that it’s a great thing when you can show that you’ve been successful, and that you’ve made a lot of money, that you’ve employed a lot of people. I actually think that it’s a positive.

October 24, 2012: Trump tells CNN that Romney should release his tax returns if Obama releases evidence proving his birth in the U.S.

PAUL CRUICKSHANCK: Going back to tax returns, Barack Obama released seven years, John Kerry released 12 years, Mitt Romney’s own father released a dozen years. What’s to stop him in this new spirit of transparency that you want to see? What is to stop your friend Mitt, just saying, you know what, I know there are doubts, people still don’t see the offshore records, here it is going back 12 years.

TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you, as far as I’m concerned, I think and I told this to Mitt … if he [Obama] releases, I’d like to do a swap. College records, passport applications for every tax return he [Romney] ever signed. I mean, his returns are absolutely beautiful and perfect. I looked at them. A lot of people look at them. […] If I were Mitt, I’d say […] “I’ll release the rest of them if you [Obama] release your college records and your college applications.”

May 2014: Trump says that if he runs for office, he will “absolutely” release his tax returns, in an interview with Ireland’s TV3.

COLETTE FITZPATRICK: You questioned his [Obama’s] citizenship during his campaign, and you said afterwards if he produced that long-form birth certificate, you’d produce your tax returns. But you didn’t do it, did you?

TRUMP: Well I don’t know, did he do it? And if I decide to run for office, I’ll produce my tax returns, absolutely and I would love to do that. I did produce a financial statement even though I wasn’t even running. I did produce a financial statement and it was shocking to some because it was so much higher than people thought even possible. So it was a great statement, and it was my honor to do it.

February 25, 2015: Trump tells conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that he has “no objection” to releasing his tax returns.

HUGH HEWITT: Would you release tax returns, though?

TRUMP: I would release tax returns, and I would also explain to people that as a person that’s looking to make money, you know, I’m in the business of making money until I do this. And if I won, I would make money for our country. […] So the answer is yeah, I would do it. […]

HEWITT: How many years back would you go on the day you announce? Three? Five?

TRUMP: Oh, I don’t know. I mean, I actually have not even thought of that, but I would certainly show tax returns if it was necessary.

HEWITT: At least a couple of years?

TRUMP: Well, what have they been doing? They’ve been really doing one year, other than people that never made anything. But I would, certainly. I’m very proud of what I’ve done. […] We’ll take a good, strong look at that, Hugh. I mean, it’s obviously not something I thought of, but you know, I’ve given any real thought to, but I have no objection to certainly showing tax returns.

October 4, 2015: On ABC’s This Week, Trump says he will release his tax returns once Hillary Clinton releases her emails.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Getting any closer to releasing your tax returns?

TRUMP: Well, I’m thinking about it. I’m thinking about maybe when we find out the true story on Hillary’s emails. You know, I’ve been saying that for a while, let’s find out the true stories.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes, that’s been your line, but she’s been putting some out.

TRUMP: But you know what? I’m very honest with my tax returns. [CROSSTALK]

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your tax rate?

TRUMP: I’m not going to say it, but at some point I’ll release it. But I pay as little as possible, I’m very proud to tell you. […] If our country was properly run, I’d almost feel much better about it, and so would a lot of other people.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about what…

TRUMP: But I just want to say, I fight like hell to pay as little as possible.

January 24, 2016: On NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump says that his campaign is “working on” releasing his tax returns.

CHUCK TODD: Will you release any of your tax returns for the public to scrutinize?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, we’re working on that now. I have very big returns, as you know, and I have everything all approved and very beautiful and we’ll be working that over in the next period of time, Chuck. Absolutely.

TODD: What’s a period of time? Before–

TRUMP: I don’t know, I mean, you know, accountants. This is not, like, a normal tax return. This is–

TODD: No, I understand that.

TRUMP: And I have to. […]

TODD: But you will release it–

TRUMP: I pay, it’s a little tax. And I say it. And the reporters said, “That’s the most refreshing answer I’ve ever heard on taxes,” because everyone tries to build it up […] We’re working on it right now, and at the appropriate time, you’ll be very satisfied.

February 10, 2016: Trump tells NBC News that he will release his tax returns over the next few months.

MATT LAUER: Real quickly. When are you going to release your tax returns?

TRUMP: Probably over the next few months. They’re being worked on now.

LAUER: What’s the hold up?

TRUMP: They’re very—well, it’s the very big tax returns. The biggest, I guarantee you this, the biggest ever in the history of what we’re doing. So, it’s very complicated stuff. But we’ll be releasing that.

February 22, 2016: For the first time, Trump defends his failure to release the returns with the claim that he’s under an audit by the IRS, during an appearance on the Hugh Hewitt Show.

HUGH HEWITT: First of all, when do we get tax returns, Donald Trump, because Mitt Romney got killed on this four years ago. And you’ve got to get them out there as well.

TRUMP: Well, we’ll get them out at some point, probably. I mean, I’m looking at it. I told my people the other day start looking at it. You know, I have very, very complex, I have, did you ever see the picture, I tweeted a picture where the returns are like two feet high…

HEWITT: I didn’t.

TRUMP: …which by the way it itself is ridiculous. But my returns are among the largest. I’m audited all the time by government. And I think every single year, I’ve had an audit for years. And you know, other people, friends of mine say they never get audited. I say congratulations. I have audits every year. So it’s, you know, one of those things. But we are working. They’re very complex papers, but we’re working on it.

HEWITT: Will we get them soon, do you think?

TRUMP: I don’t know. I have to ask my accounting people. But we’ll be working on it. Everything is very much, you know, I gave my financials ahead of schedule, much ahead of schedule. I had a long time to give them, and I gave them immediately. And they were very complex, also, and very big, and they turned out to be extremely good, much better, actually, than people thought.

February 24, 2016: Following Mitt Romney’s accusations that Trump’s taxes contain a “bombshell,” Trump defends himself on Anderson Cooper 360 and says he will “make a determination” on his returns soon.

ANDERSON COOPER: Just today, you probably know Mitt Romney said, “I think there’s reason to believe there’s a bombshell in Trump’s taxes.” Now, we should point out, and Mitt Romney refused to release his taxes for quite a while. He ultimately did. But, why not just put it out there?

TRUMP: Well, because my returns are extremely complex and I’ll make a determination at the right time. I’m in no rush to do it. […] I have, you know, tremendously, you know, I have a very complex system of taxes. And, frankly I get audited every single year. But, we’ll make a determination over the next couple of months. It’s very complicated.

COOPER: Point blank, does that mean you absolutely will release them? Just a question of when?

TRUMP: No, I’ll make a determination. I will be making that determination over the next, I would say, couple of months. We’ll make that determination, absolutely.

A CNN article on the interview also noted that Trump told Cooper, “There is no bombshell at all other than I pay a lot of tax and the government wastes the money.”

February 25, 2016: During the CNN-Telemundo Republican Debate, Trump again says that he cannot release his tax returns while under an audit.

TRUMP: As far as my return, I want to file it, except for many years, I’ve been audited every year. Twelve years, or something like that. Every year they audit me, audit me, audit me. Nobody gets audited — I have friends that are very wealthy people. They never get audited. I get audited every year. I will absolutely give my return, but I’m being audited now for two or three years, so I can’t do it until the audit is finished, obviously. And I think people would understand that.

HUGH HEWITT: Mr. Trump, a year ago you told me on my radio show, the audio and the transcript are out there on YouTube, that you would release your tax returns.

TRUMP: True.

HEWITT: Are you going back on your commitment?

TRUMP: No, I’m not. […] Let me just tell you something. I want to release my tax returns but I can’t release it while I’m under an audit. We’re under a routine audit. I’ve had it for years, I get audited. And obviously if I’m being audited, I’m not going to release a return. As soon as the audit is done, I love it. […] As far as the taxes are concerned, I’m being audited. It’s a very routine audit, and it’s very unfair, because I’ve been audited for, I think, over 12 years. Every year, because of the size of my company, which is very, very large, I’m being audited — which is a very large company.

WOLF BLITZER: Thank you.

TRUMP: I’m being audited 12 years in a row, at least. Now, until that audit’s done, and I don’t think anybody would blame me, I’m not giving it.

February 25, 2016: During CNN’s review of the debate, Trump adds that he can’t release older returns not under audit because all his returns must be released “in a very unified way.” He also accuses the IRS of auditing him because he’s a Christian.

TRUMP: But the one problem I have is that I’m always audited by the IRS, which I think is very unfair. I don’t know maybe because of religion. Maybe because of something else. Maybe because I’m doing this although this is just recently. […]

CHRIS CUOMO: You think maybe you get audited for being a strong Christian?

TRUMP: You see what’s — well, you see what happens. I mean, you have many religious groups that are complaining about that. […]

CUOMO: But that [releasing tax returns] seems like an easy answer for you.

TRUMP: No, I can’t do that. I can’t do that. We have to put it together in a very unified way. They all relate to each other. I don’t know if you saw the picture I have where I have almost a thousand pages. The ones from previous relate to the ones later and it doesn’t make sense unless they’re all released.

CUOMO: You know, what would you do with this issue if somebody else had it? Would you say, ‘What are you talking about?’ The tax returns—just put it out.

TRUMP: Nobody that is under a regular audit. I mean, it is just a regular audit I do—almost every, I think for 12 years, 10 years, 12 years, I get audited. Nobody would ever put out their returns that’s under an audit. It’s very unfair that I’m audited all the time. And by the way, I always passed the audit. […]

CUOMO: Why wouldn’t you put it out because you’re under audit? Just so people understand. […]

TRUMP: You are in the midst of negotiating and talking to the IRS. You never put it out. You would never do that. Your lawyers would never allow you to do that. It is a very simple audit. I think it perhaps will go fast and perhaps it won’t. And when it is complete, you got them. I love it. But I think until that audit is done, certainly you wouldn’t do that.

February 27, 2016: Trump defends himself at a rally in Millington, Tenn., pointing to his financial statements for proof of his wealth instead.

“The financials are about, like, what you earn. Tax returns don’t mean anything about worth, just so you understand. And you never give a tax return when you’re being audited. You know I’ve been audited every single year […] But I filed my financials and they were phenomenal. And believe me, if they weren’t phenomenal, you would’ve heard about it from the press. You would’ve heard about it.”

February 28, 2016: Following attacks from Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Trump insists to CNN that he cannot release tax returns while under an audit. Adding to his previous accusations, he alleges that the IRS is singling him out because of his political views.

JAKE TAPPER: Yesterday, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz released summaries of their tax returns. You have yet to do so. Rubio and Cruz have been saying that you’re trying to hide something. […] Can you deny that those charges are true, and when will we see your taxes?

TRUMP: Well, number one, I fully disclosed my financials. And I put them in actually right on time. And nobody else did, by the way, but I put them in on time. And it’s almost 100 pages of financials. And it shows over $10 billion. If you figure it out, it’s over $10 billion in net worth. And it’s an amazing company with great cash flow, very little debt, all of that. You can’t tell anything from tax returns, because you take deductions, massive deductions and lots of other things. And you can’t tell very much from a tax return. You really can’t tell anything as to that. As far as gifts, I give a lot of money. I could probably release a lot of the gifts that I have given over the years. […]

But I can’t release tax returns when there’s an audit. Now, it’s very unfair. I have been treated very unfairly by the IRS, because I have been audited almost every year for 10 or 12 years. And I have friends that are very rich people. They never get audited. And so I think I have been really singled out. I don’t know why I’m singled out, maybe because I’m a — very conservative, maybe because I’m Tea Party. […]

I don’t know what it is, but I have been singled out. So, until the audit is completed, obviously, I’m not giving my papers. And you had people on your show and on CNN with — tax experts said, no, it would be crazy to give papers before the audit is completed. […]

So, just — just to finish, I have fully disclosed my net worth. And all you have to do is go and check my financial statements, because I fully disclosed my financial statements, and that was a big deal, and they’re very good. And, obviously, you would have heard about it if they weren’t, because they have been gone over by everybody. As far as the tax returns, I obviously cannot give tax returns that are under audit. And every expert that you have had on your show said you shouldn’t do it. You should wait until the audit is over.

February 28: Trump avoids a question on CBS’s Face the Nation regarding whether or not he would release a summary of his taxes. He also promises to confirm his audit with a letter from his lawyers.

JOHN DICKERSON: You’re being audited. You said you won’t release your returns. What about releasing a summary? That is sometimes what candidates do. It will show your income, your charitable deductions, your effective tax rate. Would you do that?

TRUMP: Well, I have already done — I have already released my financials, which are massive, and, by the way, which showed a tremendous company. […]

DICKERSON: What about a summary, though, of your taxes?

TRUMP: You don’t learn — you don’t learn very much from tax — hey, John, you don’t learn very much from tax returns, let me tell you right now. But when you’re under audit, you don’t give your papers. An audit is — I have been under audit for so many years. Every year, I get audited. For, I think, over 10 years, maybe even 12 years, I have been audited. […]

DICKERSON: Would you produce the audit letter, by the way, in terms of those who are just skeptical that maybe this is just an effort to not release your tax returns?

TRUMP: I don’t think I would have problem with that. I assume I can give you a letter from a big law firm saying that we’re under audit. But I have been audited. And I will let you know how many years too. I have been audited for consecutive years, many, many, many years. And I think it’s unfair.

Trump did in fact follow through somewhat on his promise to confirm the audit. On March 30, his campaign released a letter from his tax lawyers, which said that the candidate is under audit for tax returns from 2009 onward.

May 8, 2016: On NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump pledges to release his tax returns as soon as the audit is over.

CHUCK TODD: All right, last question. Why not release the tax returns that aren’t involved in the audit?

TRUMP: Because it’s a link. I have very big tax returns. I’m sure you’ve seen the picture where they’re literally from the floor to up to here. They’re extremely complex. I get audited–

TODD: Do you think you can do it before the election, though?

TRUMP: I hope so. I’d like to. I have no problem releasing the tax returns

TODD: Do you pledge to do it before the election?

TRUMP: Excuse me. Sure. If the auditors finish. I’ll do it as fast as the auditors finish. Remember this, I’ve already given my financials. And my financials show I’m worth more than $10 billion by any stretch of the imagination. Has tremendous cash. Tremendous cash flow. You don’t learn much from tax returns. But I would love to give the tax returns. But I can’t do it until I’m finished with the audit.

May 11, 2016: Trump tells the AP that he will only release his tax returns once the audit is complete and that he will not push his lawyers on the issue.

“There’s nothing to learn from them,” Trump said. He also said he doesn’t believe voters are interested.

“Now, I hope [the audit] gets finished soon. And if it gets finished soon, I put it out immediately because there’s nothing there. But until you get finished, you won’t,” he said.

He also weighed in on this interview on Twitter, saying, “In interview I told @AP that my taxes are under routine audit and I would release my tax returns when audit is complete, not after election!”

One of the reporters behind the story, Julie Pace, said later that day on CNN’s This Hour: “We said, ‘Will you push your lawyers on this, will you tell them that voters deserve to know this information regardless of the audit?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘One, the voters don’t actually care about this, and two, there is no new l information that would come out of the tax returns.'”

In a statement to statement to CNN, Trump’s spokeswoman said, “Mr. Trump has always said that when the routine audit is complete he would release his tax returns.”

May 11, 2016: In a tense interview with Fox News, Trump repeats his defense, emphasizing that it makes no legal sense for him to release his tax returns while under an audit.

VAN SUSTEREN: You said that you don’t intend to release your tax returns.

TRUMP: I didn’t say that. I said I’m being audited.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about the returns that aren’t being audited?

TRUMP: There’s a link, but it goes way back.

VAN SUSTEREN: How far back have you been audited?

TRUMP: I don’t know, I’d have to ask, but long enough that it would matter, and there’s a link between that and other things, and as soon as the audit’s finished, I’d love to—

VAN SUSTEREN: A link with what?

TRUMP: It’s just a relatively simple audit. Now I’ll tell you what’s unfair, every year for many years, I’ve been audited. And I have friends who are very rich that never get audited. I get audited every single year. I think it’s actually very unfair. […]

VAN SUSTEREN: If your audit goes back seven years would you be release the eighth year back?

Would you be willing to do that?

TRUMP: Number one, it’d be meaningless. I’d have to find out how far back it goes, but number one it’d be meaningless. When you go back eight years

VAN SUSTEREN: People are suspicious. People are suspicious that you’re not releasing because in January of 2012 you said to me that Mitt Romney was making a big mistake by not releasing his, so naturally that’s become a flashpoint.

TRUMP: But he wasn’t under audit. I’m under audit. No lawyer would say, ‘Release it when you’re under audit.’ And these are very simple audits… If you represented me, and I was under audit.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would tell you not to release. I agree. I’m a lawyer.  If I were your lawyer.

TRUMP: So the answer is before the election, I’ll release. And I’d like to release. But really, you learn very little from a tax return. You know, I’ve released my financials, and my financials show tremendous numbers, very little debt, you don’t learn very much from your tax returns.

VAN SUSTEREN: But by releasing those, it dispels that argument that there’s something going on that you’re not doing it. It takes the mystery off of it.

TRUMP: You don’t learn anything. A tax return, you learn very, very little. I have released highly detailed, complex financials in line with the Federal Elections Commission. We put them in with, I think, it’s 99 pages or close to 100 pages of detail saying what a great company I built. […] We learn very little from a tax return, but here’s the thing, Greta, when you’re under audit, and you totally said it, as a lawyer…

VAN SUSTEREN: I totally agree. If you were my client, if you were under audit, I would totally say, don’t release it, but I just think there’s some years outside the audit that might be released realistically

TRUMP: I think they are meaningless. It doesn’t matter because they’re so far back. But at the right time I’ll release them. I hope to release them, I’d like to release them. But when I’m under audit I can’t do that.

May 13, 2016: Trump tells ABC News that voters do not have a right to see his tax returns before the election, again saying that he will present the returns once the audit is over.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you believe voters have a right to see your tax returns before they make a final decision?

TRUMP: I don’t think they do. But I do say this, I will really gladly give them — they’re not going to learn anything but it’s under routine audit. When the audit ends I’ll present them. That should be before the election. I hope it’s before the election. But when the audit ends. I’ve had even journalists say that, no, nobody should give until audits are over. […] As far as I’m concerned, I want to give it as soon as possible. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: As you know the audit is no excuse. The IRS has made it very clear an audit is not a bar to public release. It is entirely your choice. President Nixon released his tax returns even though he was under audit. And when you were seeking a casino license in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, you released the returns to the state officials even though you were under audit.

TRUMP: I am under audit now and as soon as the audit ends I’ll release my returns. If you look at many others, many others feel the same way and almost every lawyer will tell you the same thing –when you’re under audit you finish the audit before you release. I have no problem and it should be and I hope it’s before the election […] By the way, people will learn nothing. I put in financials 100 pages worth of financials that show that I built a company that’s worth more than $10 billion. It shows cash. It shows cash flows. Returns but nevertheless, when the audit is complete, i will release. I have no problem with it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: […] If you are willing to release your tax returns to get a casino license, why shouldn’t voters see them before they make you commander in chief?

TRUMP: Well, because at the time it didn’t make any sense. If you take a look at the picture that we sent you with a tax returns probably ten feet high when you stack them on top and lengthy and complex. I built a massive business and want to make sure that everything is perfect. It’s a routine audit and get through it first and that’s what I’ll do. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: They can actually learn quite a lot. They can learn your sources of income. They can learn whether you have any foreign sources of income or any Swiss bank accounts or other offshore accounts. Do you?

TRUMP: I tell you right now, I do not. I do not have Swiss bank accounts. I don’t have offshore — I really have a very, very clean company. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: What is your tax rate?

TRUMP: It’s none of your business. You’ll see it when I release but I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you would release your tax returns then thinking of running for president when President Obama releases his birth certificate. He did. Then you said you would release your tax returns when Secretary Clinton releases her emails. She has turned over all emails in her possession.

TRUMP: There’s plenty of emails missing. I read yesterday that there were a lot of emails missing. […]

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said then that you were just going through all of the returns and you will release them now you’re throwing up the audit.

TRUMP: I never said that at all. I said I will release them upon the completion of the audit like anybody else. I was interviewed last night or the other night by Greta Van Susteren, who is a lawyer. She said I happen to agree with you. Until then, you shouldn’t release them.

May 21, 2016: Trump tells The Washington Post that he pays “substantial” taxes.

In an interview this week, Trump said that he has paid “substantial” taxes but declined to provide specifics.

He reiterated that he fights “very hard to pay as little tax as possible.”

“One of the reasons is because the government takes your money and wastes it in the Middle East and all over the place,” he said.

Since this article was published, Trump and a top aide have made more comments on the matter. See these additions below:

July 27, 2016: As questions arise over Trump’s financial relationship to Russia, his campaign chair says in a CBS interview that his tax returns have “nothing to do” with the matter.

NORAH O’DONNELL: I saw that Trump tweeted yesterday that he has zero investments in Russia. But does Russia have investments in Trump? Would Mr. Trump be willing to release his taxes to provide transparency on this issue?

PAUL MANAFORT: Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and that he will not be releasing them. It has nothing to do with Russia. It has nothing to do with any country other than the United States and his normal tax auditing processes. That issue will be dealt with when the audits are done.

O’DONNELL: So to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs?

MANAFORT: That’s what he said. That’s obviously what our position is.

July 28, 2016: In his most recent comments on the issue, Trump tells Fox News that he hasn’t received much pressure to release his tax returns.

VAN SUSTEREN: If Secretary Clinton were willing to give up the transcripts from her Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street speeches, would you be willing to give up, or surrender, or let the media see your tax returns and, if it’s not — at least not for the years not currently in audit?

DONALD TRUMP: […] You’re the one that said recently, and I have used your name a couple of times, that if I had a client who was under a routine audit by the IRS, I wouldn’t let him go public until the audit is over. Now, you said that on your show, and you were speaking then not as a great and talented anchor, but you were speaking as a lawyer, and somebody that knows what they are talking about. But you said yourself, if you were a lawyer, you wouldn’t do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: I said as a lawyer for the years in audit, absolutely, but […] To give sort of a general idea, and sort of call off the dogs and the people who are after your tax returns to look at them, why not release those that are not in audit, even if they go back a number of years?

TRUMP: Well, I haven’t had much pressure. I’ll be honest, most people don’t care about it. The only ones that care are certain people in the media. I’ve had very, very little pressure. And, I remember with Mitt Romney four years ago. Everybody wanted his. […] And Mitt gave that, and after he gave it, they found a little sentence and they made such a big deal. He might have lost the election over that.

Photo: Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a news conference in Bismarck, North Dakota US May 26, 2016.   REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    

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