Amid a push by Democrats to look at President Trump’s tax returns, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called their efforts “moronic” despite previously declaring that there could be an explosive revelation in them.
"I'd like the president to follow through and show his tax returns," Romney told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
"But I also have to tell you, I think the Democrats are just playing along his handbook, which is that going after his tax returns through a legislative action is moronic,” he continued. “That's not going to happen. The courts are not going to say you can compel a person running for office to release their tax returns. So he's going to win this victory. He wins them time after time."
During the 2016 campaign, Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was a fierce Trump critic and at one point suggested there could be a “bombshell” in the real estate mogul’s tax returns.
“I think there’s something there,” he said in February 2016 on Fox News. “Either he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is or he hasn’t been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn’t been giving money to the vets or to the disabled like he’s been telling us he’s doing.”
Democrats, empowered after the 2018 elections gave them control of the House, recently requested six years of the president’s personal tax returns under a provision in the federal tax code that says the IRS “shall furnish” any filer’s tax return information to the chairs of three congressional committees “upon written request.”
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., sent a letter to the IRS Wednesday, formally asking for the returns and giving a deadline of April 10.
"This request is about policy, not politics,” Neal said in a statement. “My preparations were made on my own track and timeline, entirely independent of other activities in Congress and the Administration. My actions reflect an abiding reverence for our democracy and our institutions, and are in no way based on emotion of the moment or partisanship."
Still, Republicans accused Democrats of weaponizing the tax code against Trump and argued their actions would threaten taxpayers’ privacy rights and set a dangerous precedent.
In recent precedent, presidential candidates have released their returns, which is not required by law. Trump, however, backed off his promise to do so and refused to release them, claiming he was under audit.
On Friday, Trump repeated the claim. "I’m under audit. When you’re under audit you don’t do it."
"From what I understand, the law is 100 percent on my side," he also said.
Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also told “Fox News Sunday” that the request was “political hit job.”
“You always expect something from the Democrats,” said Mulvaney, who also serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget. “If they don’t get what they want from the Mueller report, they’re going to ask for the taxes. If they don’t get what they want on the taxes, they’ll ask for something else.”
"They know one of the fundamental principles of the IRS is to protect the confidentiality of you and me and everybody else who files taxes,” continued Mulvaney. "They know the terms under law by which the IRS can give them the documents, but 'political hit job' is not one of those reasons."
When asked if he believes Democrats will ever see Trump’s tax returns, Mulvaney said, "Oh, no, never.”
“Nor should they,” he added. “Keep in mind that's an issue that was already litigated during the  election. Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns, they knew that he didn’t, and they elected him anyway, which, of course, is what drives the Democrats crazy. But they know they're not going to get this.”
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