Tom Cotton Shouted Down After Defending Trump’s Refusal to Release Taxes

Meanwhile, more Republicans are urging the president to disclose his returns.

As more Republican lawmakers put pressure on President Donald Trump to finally disclose his tax returns, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Monday held firm in defending the president’s refusal to deliver on his key campaign promise by repeating the original excuse Trump offered when he was a candidate. 

“As far as I’m aware, the president said he’s still under audit,” Cotton said at a town hall meeting in Little Rock, after a constituent asked the Arkansas senator if he’d “take the initiative” and force Trump to release the relevant documents.

“It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find out where Donald Trump has connections overseas,” he continued. “He normally has his names on buildings.”

The response prompted loud jeers from the audience as well as demands for Cotton to “do your job”—a chant that’s been frequently used in contentious town halls across the country, where Republican lawmakers have been met by constituents angered by White House policies and congressional cooperation with the administration.

With the approach of tax day, the question of whether Republicans would press Trump to disclose his returns became a popular refrain during the meetings:

When Congress returns from its recess next week, the president will face his next legislative battle and rewrite the tax code. An increasing number of congressional Republicans have used the opportunity to insist Trump disclose his own returns or face insurmountable opposition as he attempts to satisfy another one of his campaign promises. In February, one of Trump’s fiercest supporters, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), surprised constituents when he said Trump should “absolutely” release his taxes.

A failure to overhaul the tax system would be the administration’s second legislative embarrassment in a row, following the GOP’s failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act last month.

Several state lawmakers, including a few Republicans, have recently proposed legislation to avoid this problem in the future, by mandating all presidential candidates release their returns in order to get on future state ballots.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.