President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer decimated his rationale for refusing to release his tax returns in a Fox News interview on Wednesday morning.
Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and current Trump attorney, was attempting to argue that Congress should not be able to access the president’s tax returns even though a federal law gives House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) the right to do so. He suggested that because Congress was unlikely to legislate based on Trump’s tax returns, it had no legitimate legislative reason to ask for them — an argument the president’s supporters have been making for weeks.
But then he made a new argument that seriously undermines the president’s longstanding excuse for keeping his tax returns secret.
Every other modern president has voluntarily released his tax returns — and during his 2016 campaign for the presidency, Trump initially promised to do so as well. But Trump hasn’t followed through, repeatedly claiming that he cannot be transparent with the American people until the conclusion of what he calls a “routine audit” by the Internal Revenue Service. (The IRS has stated that no law prohibits releasing a tax return that is under audit, and Trump has never offered any evidence to back up his audit claim.)
During his Fox News appearance, however, Giuliani suggested the IRS has finished looking into Trump’s taxes.
“The IRS has investigated his taxes,” Guiliani sad. “They exist to come after us if we don’t pay our taxes. We know they’re damn good and they’re confidential and they don’t leak. If they haven’t gone after him on taxes, for that six-year period, then there is nothing wrong with his taxes.”
“They can’t investigate his taxes better than the IRS,” Giuliani continued, referring to the Democratic lawmakers on the House Ways and Means committee who are seeking Trump’s tax information. “They want his taxes to embarrass him.”
But if the IRS has indeed completed its investigation and found nothing improper — as his lawyer just claimed — Trump’s repeated promises should make Congress’ request a moot point.
“I’m under a routine audit and it’ll be released, and as soon as the audit is finished it will be released,” Trump promised in January 2017.