At the end of a contentious exchange on ABC's Good Morning America, Donald Trump told anchor George Stephanopoulos that his tax rate "is none of your business."
In questioning the co-host's objectivity, Trump also threw shade on Stephanopoulos' prior political ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. See clip embedded below.
During a phone interview, Trump and the GMA anchor were sparring yesterday morning over when the presumptive GOP nominee will release his income tax returns to the public, an issue that seems to be of great concern to the media echo chamber but apparently far less so to the actual public.
Trump has repeatedly vowed that he'll release the documentation once the IRS completes an audit of his tax submission and denied an Associated Press report that the disclosure will occur after the November general election. He has also insisted that his financial statements submitted when he launched his presidential campaign last June are more informative about his wealth than what is contained in his tax returns.When Stephanopoulos asked Trump to reveal his tax rate (the implication being that the billionaire's filing status may be inconsistent with his fortune), the New York real estate mogul fired back with a blunt response.
"It's none of your business. You'll see it when I release, but I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible."Back in August 2015, when the presidential campaign was in its early stages, Trump revealed that he is no fan of paying the tax man and tries to minimize the tax bite because he wants to put as much money back into his company and also because of rampant government waste. He reaffirmed that opinion on GMA.
"I try very hard to pay as little tax as possible and have said that for the last two years. I fight very hard because this country wastes our money. They take our tax money and throw it down the drain. They spend $4 trillion in the Middle East and we can't fix a road or a bridge. And I fight very hard. I consider it an expense because, frankly, our country doesn't know what they're doing with our money or tax money and that's part of the problem. So I fight very hard to pay as little tax as possible."When Stephanopoulos suggested that Trump has left a trail of broken promises about disclosing his tax returns (i.e., after Obama released his birth certificate or when Hillary Clinton released "all" of her emails), Trump didn't mince words.
"There's plenty [of emails] missing. I read yesterday that there were a lot of emails missing. I know you're a good friends of hers, and I know you worked for them, but you didn't reveal it. But you know she did not turn over her emails. There are a lot of emails missing. There are emails missing all over the place. The whole thing is a scam. There are emails missing all over the place."GMA viewers may not be aware that before going into television, Stephanopoulos was a Bill Clinton presidential campaign operative and later the White House communications director for the Clinton administration. The long-time Clinton staff is now ABC's chief news anchor as well as GMA co-host and moderator of This Week, an ABC political roundtable which airs on Sunday mornings.Trump was specifically alluding to the fact that about a year ago this month, George Stephanopoulos admitted that he failed to disclose to ABC-TV viewers his $75,000 donation to the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee who is feuding with Trump, claimed on Facebook that "It is disqualifying for a modern-day presidential nominee to refuse to release tax returns to the voters..." and that their might be a "bombshell" in the records.
Many observers find Romney's criticism of a fellow Republican odd in that Romney himself was on the receiving end of wholly unsubstantiated allegations about taxes from former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) during the 2012 campaign. "Romney's 'bombshell' remark mirrored Reid's repeated claims four years ago that an anonymous source told him that Romney hadn't paid taxes for 10 years," Politico explained.
Added American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp, ""I don't know what's wrong with Mitt Romney. It's so strange. He as a candidate didn't even release his taxes until Harry Reid took to the [Senate] floor and claimed that maybe he didn't pay any income taxes at all, and now all of a sudden Mitt Romney is chastising Donald Trump for not releasing his taxes."
Whether you are a fan of the candidate or not, do you think that the release of Donald Trump's tax returns is a big issue for the ordinary voter?
[Photo by Mary Altaffer/AP]