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Sen. Murphy Calls On Trump To Release Tax Returns, Pushes Legislation Requiring It

This is a picture of a tax return

Two United States senators from opposite sides of the country are calling on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to release his tax returns. The staunch Democrats are also pushing legislation that would require it.Connecticut’s Chris Murphy and Oregon’s Ron Wyden held a conference call with reporters Thursday calling on Trump to release his tax returns. Murphy, a Democrat, has been an outspoken supporter of Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

“It’s been accepted precedent for 40 years that if you’re running for president in this country you release your tax returns,” Murphy said. “Everybody’s done it. Donald Trump is the first person who has refused to do it despite the fact that he knows that it’s hurting his campaign. The logical conclusion is that there is something really awful in those tax returns; otherwise he would release them.”

While releasing tax returns has become a tradition for presidential candidates, it is not law. Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says Trump’s more favorable attitude toward Russia than most in the American political realm may be explained by the speculation Trump will make money off lifting sanctions against Russia.

“He may be making decisions as president that don’t benefit us, but benefit his bottom line,” Murphy said. “His son has said, clearly for the record, that a lot of Trump’s fortune is invested in Russia. Trump has a position on Russia that is way out of the mainstream – suggesting that we should abandon NATO and that Russia didn’t really invade Ukraine.”

Wyden says he plans to call on the Senate to pass the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, which he introduced in May, when Congress returns after Labor Day. The legislation would release the tax returns of major party presidential candidates 15 days after he or she becomes an official nominee.

“The legislation would direct the Treasury Department to release the returns so the Federal Election Commission can put it up on their website,” Wyden said. “This is a directive.”

Wyden says tax returns could show a candidate’s overseas ties and charitable giving. The Oregon senator says an audit of Trump’s tax returns is no excuse to hide them. The Republican nominee has stated that as a reason for not releasing them. Clinton’s campaign released a television ad Thursday claiming Trump is hiding something by not unveiling his tax returns.

Clinton has faced similar calls to release transcripts of paid speeches she gave to Wall Street insiders. In an April debate with then Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders, Clinton said she would do so when every other candidate releases transcripts of paid speeches.

Wyden says he is open to requiring Congressional candidates release their tax returns, but says the focus should be on the presidential race for now.

WAMC’s political observer Alan Chartock says Trump is putting himself in political peril by not releasing his tax returns.

WAMC's Ian Pickus speaks with WAMC's political observer Alan Chartock about the political implications of Donald Trump's decision not to release his tax returns.

“It occurs to me that he [Trump] cannot be refusing to do this, not realizing that this is costing him,” Chartock said. “So there is probably a push-pull thing here in which he says ‘On the one hand if I do it people are going to find out about those and so. If I don’t do it it’s going to really cost me votes in the election.’”

Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Jim is WAMC’s Assistant News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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