Trump Now Says He Won in 2016 Because He Didn’t Release His Taxes

Surveys have repeatedly shown a majority of voters want to see the president’s returns.

Dave Hedstrom/Zumapress

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On Saturday, the president made his ire for the Democrats’ ramped up efforts to obtain his tax returns known on Twitter, where he claimed that he won the 2016 election in part because he did not release those records, and implied that the question of his taxes has already been litigated in the eyes of the public: “The voters didn’t care,” he wrote.

Trump’s tweet reiterated, almost verbatim, a line his administration has repeated time and again to explain the president’s continued refusal to release his taxes. By voting him into office, the reasoning goes, voters actually signaled that they didn’t care they weren’t available, or perhaps even that they would prefer he keep them private. “Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns. They knew that he didn’t. And they elected him anyway,” Trump’s chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said last month on Fox News. “That’s an issue that was already litigated during the election.”

Extensive polling, however, disputes this idea. Dozens of surveys have shown that a majority of Americans, across party lines, want to see Trump’s tax returns. Slate has a great roundup of relevant data from before and after the 2016 election: An August 2016 Quinnipiac University poll, for instance, found that more than a third of respondents who were inclined to vote for Trump also believed he should release his returns. In a Washington Post/ABC poll taken in January 2019, 60 percent of respondents agreed that House Democrats should “use their congressional authority to obtain and release Trump’s tax returns,” while only 35 percent disagreed. 

A poll taken earlier this month found that 60 percent of Americans believe the public has a right to know about Trump’s finances. 

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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