To the frustration of Democrats and Republicans alike, Donald Trump’s most consistent position—perhaps his only consistent position, actually—throughout this ludicrous campaign season has been his refusal to release his tax returns. Now, at least two wealthy Hillary Clinton allies have put out a bounty for them.
The reason given is that he is under audit, and that he cannot release his returns until the audit is complete. According to no less an authority than the IRS, this is a fake, made-up reason: The Republican nominee is free to make his returns public regardless of whether they are under audit. (As it turns out, the IRS has been auditing Trump for no less than 12 years, which is very unusual.)
In any case, the returns exist—his taxes are done by a mid-sized, Manhattan-based firm called WeiserMazars—and his reluctance to make them public implies that their contents are at best simply embarrassing and at worst outright damning. It is hardly a surprise then, that Moishe Mana, a top fundraiser for Clinton, has offered a $1 million gift to the charity of Trump’s choice if he releases them.
“Through his financial documents, we are trying to break into the image that he’s portraying to the American people,” Mana, a Miami real estate developer, told the Associated Press. “He says he’s a successful businessman who wants to do for the country what he did for his company. Well, go ahead, show me the money.”
On a phone call will reporters earlier this month, Clinton ally David Brock said that he had documentation proving a “lifelong Republican” had put $5 million into a bank account, to be given to a veteran’s charity of Trump’s choosing if he released his returns.
Speculation abounds that Trump’s reluctance is motivated by the fact that releasing his returns would reveal his ties to countries like Russia. Asked at a press conference in Doral, Florida, on Wednesday when he would release his returns, he said: “I don’t know. Depends on the audit.” The Associated Press reports:
Trump said Wednesday that he has no ties to Russia whatsoever, but that hasn’t stopped Democratic donors in Philadelphia from saying that in the absence of Trump’s tax returns, voters are left to wonder whether there are undisclosed financial ties between Trump and foreign entities.
“Think of what’s gone on just this week and connect the dotted lines,” said top Clinton donor J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist in Chicago. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but it sure doesn’t look good. The question is who his investors are, and whether there are any in China or Russia that are affecting his personal income.”
Mana also wants that answered. If Trump’s elected president, he said, “how much in debt would we be to other countries? This is about the security of the United States. We have the right to make sure he’s not in debt to other countries.”
“He is obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar,” Pritzker said. Asked in May to disclose even his tax rate, Trump said, “It’s none of your business.”