Despite protests across the country over the weekend demanding the release of President Donald Trump's tax returns, the White House is still citing an ongoing audit to explain why the documents can't be made public.
“It’s the same thing that was discussed during the campaign: The president is under audit,” White House Press Secretary Spicer said Monday when asked if Trump would release his 2016 returns. The IRS deadline for Americans to file is Tuesday.
Spicer didn’t comment on whether Trump would authorize the IRS to confirm that he’s under audit, and what years that audit pertains to.
As far as Trump’s 2016 returns, they will be audited. Presidents and vice presidents are automatically audited, according to an IRS rule.
The IRS said last year that an audit does not prevent individuals from releasing their returns.
Trump broke with decades of precedent when he declined to release his returns as a candidate for the Oval Office. Then, his campaign cited ongoing audits of his taxes from 2009 to 2015 and they even quietly released a letter last March from Trump’s lawyers to bolstering the audit claim.
“We’ll have to get back to you on that,” Spicer told a reporter Monday who asked if the time had come to say that Trump would never release his returns.
The lingering tax return questions are just one of the transparency conflicts facing the administration.
On Friday, the White House said it would not release visitor logs — a departure from the Obama administration's policy of releasing over 6 million names. Spicer attacked the prior administration for “faux” transparency, noting that the White House redacted some names as it saw fit before the documents were made public.
The Trump White House also had privacy concerns, Spicer said Monday, a key reason for the discontinuation of the voluntary visitor log release.
Spicer said the administration has been “fairly transparent” with press and public regarding the president’s business meetings and schedule. However, White House aides have not provided reporters with names of President Trump’s golf partners — a game he plays often and often conducts business during.