White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said a few things this morning that didn’t surprise me.
Perhaps the least-surprising statement was that her boss, Donald J. Trump, won’t release his tax returns for public review.
There. Having said that, the fact that it doesn’t surprise anyone doesn’t make it any less outrageous.
The president quite clearly should release the returns. He didn’t do so during his winning fight for the Republican nomination; he refused to do so while waging his winning campaign for the presidency.
He’s been relying on the dodge that the IRS was conducting a “routine audit.” The IRS has countered — while declining to comment on the specifics of an audit — that such a thing doesn’t preclude release of those returns for public scrutiny.
Now, though, the stakes have been raised to a new level since the election and the swearing-in of the president. There are swirling questions about whether the president has business dealings in Russia and, specifically with interests tied to the Russian government — which is the very government that has been accused of meddling in our presidential electoral process.
Trump has denied any such business ventures.
However, if the Watergate scandal taught us anything at all, it is that the public cannot take the president’s word on its face. To be fair, that rule has applied to many politicians before and after the scandal that toppled one of Trump’s predecessors.
If only this president would agree to disclose proof of what he has declared. Believe me, if he has no dealings with Russian government officials, he could start to rebuild the trust he will need to govern.