Trump may or may not release his tax returns, so now WikiLeaks is after them

by David Gilbert
Jan 23 2017, 9:27am

Updated 1/23/17: Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday that the president wouldn’t release his tax returns — but now she’s walking that back. Conway tweeted Monday that Trump would release his tax returns after the IRS audit (repeatedly mentioned during the campaign, though there’s no evidence an audit is underway) is completed.

Just three days after Trump was sworn in as president, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has announced that the real estate businessman will not be releasing his tax returns. In an ABC interview Sunday, Conway said: “People didn’t care … They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans … are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.”

This latest announcement seems to have angered WikiLeaks. The whistleblowing site is now calling on people to help it publish the U.S. president’s tax returns. And a new ABC News poll shows that 74 percent of Americans want Trump to release those record

WikiLeaks was largely viewed as an ally of Trump during his presidential run, given its publication of leaked Democratic emails which were hugely damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied this, saying: “This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election. The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility toward whistleblowers.”

However, on Sunday, when the White House made the announcement that it would not be releasing Trump’s tax returns — breaking with 40 years of precedent but not the law — the group made it clear that they found this unacceptable.

WikiLeaks went on to compare Trump’s decision to keep his tax affairs private to Clinton failing to release the details of three paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs — which the whistleblowing organization went on to release last October.

Trump has promised on a number of occasions that he will release his tax returns once an audit is finished, but there is no conclusive proof that an audit is even taking place.

Conway’s statement on Sunday that “people don’t care” about seeing the president’s tax returns clashes with the results of several recent polls on the matter. Just last week a Washington Post-ABC poll indicated that 74 percent of people would like Trump to release them, while a CNN poll in October showed a similar result – 73 percent of voters wanted to see returns.

WikiLeaks has now added its backing to the hundreds of thousands calling on Donald Trump to release his tax returns, with a petition asking him to do so reaching the required 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Reaction to the WikiLeaks call for whistleblowers to leak Trump’s returns has been mixed. Some have slammed the group, saying the president is entitled to privacy:

Others have expressed surprise at this demand from Wikileaks:

While many are asking why WikiLeaks is only now calling for Trump to release his taxes, Assange told HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher in August that the group was “working on” Trump’s tax returns. However, the group subsequently tweeted that this was a joke and it was simply trying to encourage whistleblowers.

Trump continues to face questions about his business dealings and how they will impact his presidency. Despite a high-profile announcement explaining that his sons would take control of his business interests, there is still no evidence that Trump has resigned from any of his companies.

Readers can also leak to VICE News via securedrop.