Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tried to defend Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns – even though an audit wouldn’t prevent him from doing so – and an angry crowd of town hall attendees was having none of it.
The town hall gathering erupted after Cotton responded to a man in the audience who asked this question:
My question is you, you in Congress and in the Senate have the power to subpoena these tax returns. The president said during the campaign that he would not release the tax returns while he was under audit. Now he says the election has happened and he doesn’t need to release his tax returns. I’m wondering if you’ll take the initiative to have him release the returns so that we can see what kinds of connections he has with different countries around the world and what tax proposals would personally benefit him and his family.
Video of the exchange:
Rowdy town hall erupts with boos — Tom Cotton shouted down for defending Trump on not releasing his tax returns pic.twitter.com/zo5TW3J0dD
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) April 17, 2017
In response to the man’s sensible question, which millions of Americans want to be answered, Cotton stumbled and bumbled his way through a bunch of word salad, saying:
As far as I’m aware, the president says he’s still under audit … The president is also right that this was not a secondary or side issue in the campaign. It was a central issue in the campaign. Hillary Clinton and her campaign repeatedly criticized President Trump for this, and he won despite all that.
Essentially, since the election is over and Donald Trump is president, it doesn’t matter what his financial connections are.
But the truth is it matters now more than ever that the American public sees what’s in Trump’s returns. Not only does the country deserve to know which countries he is financially beholden to, but he is also in charge of overseeing the U.S. economy and crafting tax policy.
If the president is going to implement policies that will help his own monetary interests, the American people deserve to know that – which is why those in the crowd were so angry with Cotton’s pitiful response.
The testy town hall exchange comes on the heels of nationwide Tax Day protests in which activists demanded the president to finally release his tax returns and disclose his financial entanglements to the American public.
Despite the growing consensus among Americans that Trump should release his returns, the president refuses to budge, saying in a tweet that we should instead continue to fawn over his “impossible” Electoral College win in last fall’s election.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.