Spicer: Trump won't release taxes because of audit

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that President Trump's 2016 tax returns are under audit and will not be released, pointing to a decades-old rule that automatically places the president's returns under audit.  

"The president is under audit, it's a routine one, it continues, and I think the American public knows clearly where he stands, this was something he made very clear during the election cycle," Spicer said during Monday's press briefing. 
 
"We are under the same audit that existed, so nothing has changed." 
 
Spicer's remarks came after Trump critics rallied across the country Saturday — the United States's traditional tax deadline — to call for Trump to release his returns.
 
Trump broke with long-standing precedent during the presidential campaign by refusing to release his tax returns, and has continued to refuse to release them as president. While Trump has cited the audit in defending his decision not to release the taxes, the IRS has stated that the audit doesn't prevent Trump from making his records public.
 
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Presidents have faced an automatic audit since the fallout from the Watergate scandal administration. The IRS told McClatchy in a November statement that the provision meant audits for every president and vice president since former President Nixon.
 
Trump refused to release his taxes throughout the campaign, bucking decades of tradition and drawing the ire of his opponents who questioned whether he was hiding business dealings that could look unfavorable. Democrats in the House have attempted to obtain Trump's taxes through committee votes, but have been stymied by Republican lawmakers.
  
When asked later in the briefing whether Trump would ever release his taxes, Spicer said "We will have to get back to you on that." 
 
He also swatted aside questions about whether President Trump would order the Internal Revenue Service to confirm the existence of and detail the extent of an audit he faces. While the IRS does not comment on individual Americans' returns, Trump could direct them to do so since the IRS is part of the executive branch.