Kellyanne Conway says President Trump will not release his tax returns

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition demanding to see the full returns as evidence that the President does not have any conflicts of interest

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The Independent US

President Donald Trump will not release his tax returns despite the majority of Americans demanding fiscal transparency.

More than 209,000 people have signed a petition demanding that the President immediately release his full tax returns, "with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance". If a petition on the website reaches more than 100,000 names, the White House should respond.

However, on Sunday, the President's strategist, Kellyanne Conway, sparked widespread anger - including from Wikileaks, after saying the returns would be kept hidden from public view.

"The White House response is that he’s not going to release the tax returns," she told ABC News

"We litigated this all through the election, people didn’t care, they voted for him. He made 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. 

"And you know full well that President Trump and his family are complying with all the ethical rules: everything they need to do, to step away from his businesses and be a full-time President."

Washington Post/ABC News poll in January found that 74 per cent of Americans - including 49 per cent of Mr Trump’s own supporters - wanted him to release his returns.

Yet Mr Trump told reporters at his first press conference of six months, shortly before the Inauguration, that Americans “did not care” about his returns - only reporters cared - because “he won”. 

He said he would not release the returns while they were under audit, yet Ms Conway’s comments on Sunday morning television seem to suggest that the returns will never be released.

There is no law that demands the President release his returns. Mr Trump is the first President in American history to be so opaque regarding his taxes.

He has repeatedly said that "people learn very little" from the document, yet his critics say the returns would show any potential deals with Russia, as well as how much tax he has actually paid.

Hacking group Wikileaks, which posted a slew of damaging email exchanges involving Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign, has responded, urging whistleblowers to send it copies of Mr Trump's tax records.

Mr Trump was called a genius by his advisers for avoiding paying federal income tax for two decades due to a loss of almost $1 billion in 1995.

Donald Trump points to business papers that appear to be blank

The Foreign Leaders Emoluments clause in the Constitution, as mentioned in the above survey, mandates that the President should not accept gifts from foreign leaders. 

Mr Trump was critcised for potentially breaching this clause via his hotel business, where foreign leaders can pay thousands of dollars per night for a room, hoping for the "added value" of building a relationship with the new President.

Before the election, his newest hotel in Washington DC opposite the White House hosted a group of foreign leaders who were given a tour of the most expensive suites. 

Mr Trump, rather than liquidate his commercial investments and put the assets in a blind trust, said he would instead step back from his businesses and hand them to his two older sons, Don Jr and Eric Trump.

His critics have cast doubt on these plans, saying discussing business with his sons would be hard to avoid.

The stack of paper folders that Mr Trump pointed to during his press conference before the Inauguration, which were supposed to be evidence of his stepping back from his businesses, were found to be blank.

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