White House to respond to petitions, but won't address demand for tax returns

White House to respond to petitions, but won't address demand for tax returns
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The White House is beginning to answer signed petitions on the White House website, but says it will not address one calling for President TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE to release his personal income tax returns.

"Please note that this petition is not within the scope of the Terms of Participation of We the People, as the President’s decision regarding whether to release the tax returns does not address an action or policy of the Federal Government," a response posted with the tax return petition reads.

The petition was started on Jan. 20, 2017, the day of Trump's inauguration, and garnered more than 1.1 million signatures in the year since then. 


The petition demands that Trump release his full tax returns, so Americans can "verify emoluments clause compliance." The emoluments clause of the Constitution bars federal officials from taking gifts or other benefits from foreign governments.

As a presidential candidate, Trump broke with decades of precedent by refusing to release his personal income tax returns. Every major party presidential candidate since former President Ford has released their tax returns.

Among the other petitions to get responses is one requesting that Antifa be recognized as a terrorist group, one urging the administration not to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and another allowing U.S. farmers to grow hemp.

Few petitions have received responses in Trump's first year in office, and the White House is beginning to address the backlog, according to The Associated Press.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment on the backlog.

The White House's online petitioning system was created under the Obama administration in 2011, and petitions require at least 100,000 signatures to elicit a response from the White House.

One notable petition submitted to the Obama administration in 2012 called for the U.S. government to construct a "Death Star" – the moon-sized space station and planet-destroying weapon from the Star Wars films – by 2016. The White House responded to that petition, saying that, in addition to the enormous cost of building such a weapon, it would take millennia to complete.

What's more, "the administration does not support blowing up planets," Paul Shawcross, the former science and technology adviser for the White House budget office, wrote in response to the petition.