Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have stepped up their attacks on New York City businessman Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the 2016 Republican nomination for president, in the days leading up to Super Tuesday on March 1. Donald Trump’s taxes have been a recent point of contention for his top two political opponents over the past few days, and Cruz and Rubio got out in front of the issue by releasing summaries of their own tax returns on Saturday. Ted Cruz released a summary of four years, from 2011 through 2014, and Marco Rubio released a summary of five years.
Ted Cruz in particular has taken umbrage at Donald Trump’s excuse for not releasing any summaries of his own tax returns, which is that he is currently under audit by the IRS. Trump claims that he is constantly being audited, and stated that he has received unfair treatment from the IRS, possibly in an attempt to appeal to conservative voters’ low opinion of the government agency and to garner sympathy from them. He also made sure to suggest to CNN‘s Chris Cuomo that his alleged unfair treatment may be because he’s a “strong Christian,” despite the fact that Trump was never publicly religious before he ran for president. While Trump insists that he must wait until after the audit is complete to release his tax returns, Ted Cruz released a statement on Saturday calling this claim “nonsense.”
“It’s time to stop the excuses.”
Donald Trump’s potential reasons for fearing the release of his tax returns were explored by Mediaite’s LawNewz on Thursday, following 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney jumping into the fray and backing up Ted Cruz’s position by telling Fox News Channel on Wednesday that there might be a “bombshell” revealed by Trump’s taxes. The tax attorneys who spoke to Mediaite believe that while Donald Trump is unlikely to have actually violated tax codes, the number of loopholes and other legal and moral gray areas involved in taking the utmost advantage of the law could result in terrible PR for someone of Trump’s net worth while he’s running for president. They also anticipate that Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will take advantage of how complicated Trump’s tax returns will be, and try to convince the public that he’s using unnecessarily convoluted documentation to hide something.
Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which has become one of his primary campaign tools and, according to the Trump campaign, is sometimes controlled by Donald Trump himself and sometimes controlled by an intern, released a burst of angry insults directed at Mitt Romney after Romney’s call to Fox News. In typical Trump fashion, these tweets merely ripped on Romney on a personal level and didn’t actually address the “bombshell” accusation — Trump has found great success with his rabid band of followers this election season by avoiding substance and sticking to bombastic insults, grandiose claims and plenty of superlatives.
Ted Cruz’s position was further supported by tax experts who spoke to ABC News on Friday. These experts confirmed that there is no legal impediment to prevent Donald Trump from releasing his tax returns during an IRS audit, including the years currently under audit. Some acknowledged that it could potentially affect a future audit and said that they understand his caution. However, no expert was able to cite a legal reason why Trump absolutely cannot release his tax returns because he’s being audited.
Donald Trump, despite his tax woes, accepted the endorsement of his former opponent New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday — which was just one more boost to Trump’s unstoppable campaign that has seemingly positioned him as the presumptive nominee surprisingly early in the race. Just two days before Super Tuesday, Ted Cruz polls second in Real Clear Politics‘s national poll analysis, with Marco Rubio in third and Donald Trump leading the pack by 12.9 points.
According to Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight, neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson and Ohio Governor John Kasich each have less than a 1 percent chance of winning the Republican nomination.
[Image courtesy of Michael Ciaglo-Pool/Getty Images]