Trump says he will refuse to release tax returns as long as they are under audit

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE on Wednesday said he won't turn over his tax returns as long as they are under audit, setting up a potential fight with Democrats who are expected to demand the documents once they assume the majority in the House.

At a press conference at the White House, Trump was asked if he would comply with expected Democratic requests for his tax returns.

ADVERTISEMENT

“They’re under audit. They have been for a long time,” Trump said, claiming that the documents are “extremely complex” and that people “wouldn't understand” them.

“If I were finished with the audit, I would have an open mind to it,” Trump added. “When that happens, if that happens, I would certainly have an open mind to it.”

The president broke with decades of precedent when he opted not to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has repeatedly claimed they are under audit, and therefore cannot be released, though the IRS has said that audits don't preclude people from releasing their own tax information.

Democrats are expected to demand Trump's tax returns at the start of the next session of Congress after winning back the House majority in Tuesday's midterms. They tried unsuccessfully to get Congress to obtain the returns over the last two years, but now will have a greater ability to obtain them.

Democrats and critics of the president have suggested that Trump's tax returns could reveal potential conflicts of interest, and liberal groups had urged Democratic lawmakers to demand the president's filings should they regain control of the House.

Under federal tax law, the chairmen of congressional tax committees can request tax returns from the Treasury Department and review them in a closed session before voting to make all or parts of the returns public.

While Trump may protest such a request, the decision would ultimately fall to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin told The New York Times earlier this month that he would work with the department's general counsel and the general counsel for the IRS to address any requests should Democrats win the House.

If the Trump administration refuses to provide Democrats with the tax returns, or stalls in providing them, the matter could end up in court.

Updated at 12:55 p.m.