Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee formally asked the Treasury Department to turn over several years of Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns. No one outside of the committee and the House Democratic leadership knew precisely when this was coming, but anyone paying attention knew that it was coming eventually. That’s what makes Trump’s response to the news so stunningly surreal.
When Donald Trump was asked about the development yesterday, he told a group of reporters that he was “not inclined” to go along with the committee’s request. Wait, does he really not understand how this works? Did he miss the part where the committee is seeking his tax returns from the Treasury Department? Did Trump really think the committee was asking him to turn over his own copies? But then it got weirder.
Trump also told reporters that he can’t turn over his tax returns because he’s under audit. That’s right, he’s still under audit. He’s been using that excuse since the 2016 election cycle, as if we’re supposed to believe that audits last three years or more. Worse, even Trump doesn’t appear to believe his own excuse, tepidly saying “I’m always under audit, it seems.” Who’s he trying to convince, us or himself?
What stands out here is how utterly unprepared Donald Trump sounds when it comes to this matter. Ever since the Democrats took control of the House, everyone knew that this was coming eventually, and that it was likely to come sooner rather than later. Yet Trump doesn’t appear to have done enough basic homework on this matter to grasp that the committee isn’t asking him for his tax returns. Of course this is the same guy who’s spent the week babbling about the “oranges” of the Mueller probe. Perhaps the stress really has broken his brain.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report