Trump: Not paying taxes 'makes me smart'

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpREAD: Transcript of James Comey's interview with House Republicans Klobuchar on 2020: ‘I do think you want voices from the Midwest’ Israel boycott fight roils Democrats in year-end spending debate MORE responded to an accusation from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRoger Stone fundraising off promise not to testify against Trump Rivaling chants of 'USA,' 'lock him up' greet Flynn after sentencing hearing The Hill's 12:30 Report — Flynn awaits sentencing | White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown MORE that he might have not paid federal incomes taxes by saying it would be a smart move.

Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, pounced on Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns during Monday’s presidential debate, listing the possible reasons he would be the first presidential candidates in decades not to release them.

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But her jab that the returns may be hiding evidence that Trump pays little to no federal income tax prompted a response from the Republican presidential nominee.

“Maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes,” she said.

“That makes me smart,” he interjected.

Trump has steadfastly maintained that he will not release his tax returns because they are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, despite there being no rule against releasing them during an audit.

Clinton, who has released her returns, challenged Trump by speculating about why he would not make them public. She charged that they could show Trump is not as wealthy or charitable as he claims, or has business relationships that could make the public uneasy.

“It must be something really important or terrible he’s trying to hide,” she said.

Trump responded by saying that he has released a public financial disclosure but added later that his tax dollars would have been “squandered” by the government.

“It would have been squandered, too, believe me,” he said.