Don't Expect To See Trump's Full Tax Returns

by Lani Seelinger
Drew Angerer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

So far, we've only gotten our hands on tantalizing snatches of the full financial history that Donald Trump's tax returns would reveal, if he would ever release them. But can you expect Trump to release his tax returns in their entirety? Based on the information that we can gather so far from his actions and non-actions, I frankly would not be optimistic that we'll ever get to see anything even remotely resembling Trump's full tax returns.

During the campaign, the New York Times got its hands on pieces of a Trump tax return from 1995, which showed that almost a billion dollars of losses might have allowed Trump to avoid paying taxes for almost two decades. Now, Rachel Maddow has revealed an additional two pages of 2005 Trump tax returns — but as it was only a 1040 form, the report raised (or strengthened) more questions regarding Trump's financial history than it answered. And yet, all the White House has come out with is a statement regarding Trump's 2005 taxes, claiming, among other things, that MSNBC had somehow obtained them illegally. Maddow countered that the First Amendment was on her side protecting the freedom of the press to publish information that it received anonymously, and so went another night in the Trump administration.

We may not be able to glean much from the released returns themselves, but it is possible to take cues from Trump's actions so far. If he's gotten this far without releasing his returns, why change things up now and give the Left exactly what it wants to see? Trump and his advisers, like Kellyanne Conway, have repeatedly stressed that the American people don't care about Trump's tax returns — although they has no evidence to support this claim. He knows that he got elected without letting anyone see what he's been up to, so why should low approval ratings alone force him to reveal them now?

There's been a whole lot of investigative reporting done on the president over the past several months, covering everything from Trump's record of charitable giving to his potential ties to Russian oligarchs. Trump, of course, usually denies all negative reporting on him, and has claimed repeatedly that he has absolutely no connections to Russia. All of that reporting could be proven wrong — or right — if he would release his tax returns. And yet, he's done no such thing. Is it unreasonable, then, that people would start to suspect that maybe he does have something to hide? That maybe there's some secret nestled comfortably in those tax returns that Trump doesn't want getting out to the public?

Trump lied his way into the presidency, and his rate of falsehoods certainly hasn't lowered since he took office. He clearly has no problem making things up when the truth would make him look bad — including his lie about not releasing his taxes because he was under audit, which has since been proven false. For exactly that reason, it seems probable that unless there's an actual change in the law, there's no reason to expect that Trump will ever release his tax returns, and that small leaks to the media are about all that you can expect to get.