Speed Reads

Trump Taxes

Paul Ryan calls on Donald Trump to release tax returns. Donald Trump Jr. explains why that won't happen.

After several promises to release his tax returns, Donald Trump settled on his current rationale for not releasing them in February: The last few years of his returns are under IRS audit. He reiterated that reason in an interview with The Washington Post on Thursday evening, even though the IRS has no rules against releasing returns mid-audit. Every major party presidential candidate has released his or her tax returns since 1976 — Hillary Clinton has released decades' worth — and Richard Nixon released his in 1973 even though he was being audited.

A huge majority of Americans, including a solid majority of Republicans, think Trump should release his returns. So does House Speaker Paul Ryan. "I released mine, I think he should release his," Ryan said at a news conference on Thursday, though he added that the timing is up to Trump. "I know he is under an audit and he has got an opinion about when to release those. I will defer to him on that."

The IRS audit is "a flimsy excuse," says Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post, but on Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. "gave us a simple and sensible explanation: His dad doesn't want the scrutiny." The full quote from Trump's eldest son, to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, is that the GOP nominee won't release his returns "because he's got a 12,000-page tax return that would create... financial auditors out of every person in the country asking questions that would detract from [his father's] main message."

Cillizza calls that "a remarkably honest answer," then translates for those who can't read between the lines: Trump "has calculated that the damage done to his campaign in releasing the returns is far worse than the negative press he gets from not releasing them. That's it." You can watch CNN remind everyone what Trump's tax returns might reveal in the video below. Peter Weber