US President Donald Trump will not release his tax returns, senior White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday (22 January). The statement came during an interview with ABC News when she was asked whether the White House will respond to a petition, which has more than 200,000 signatures, calling on the president to release his tax returns.

"The White House response is that he's not going to release his tax returns. We litigated this all through the election," she said.

Conway added: "People didn't care. They voted for him, and let me make this very clear: Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while President Trump is in office, not what his look like.

"And you know full well that President Trump and his family are complying with all the ethical rules, everything they need to do to step away from his businesses and be a full-time president."

Trump had pledged that he would release his tax returns once an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit was done. At a news conference in early January, he said "I'm not releasing the tax returns because, as you know, they're under audit," and added that the public is not interested in seeing his tax returns.

Conway further added: "Our position from the campaign has not changed. He is under audit and has been advised by accountants and lawyers not to release."

Trump, during his election campaign, became the first presidential nominee of a major political party since 1972 not to have released his tax returns.

According to a New York Times report, ethics experts believe Trump has not done enough to distance himself from his businesses, and could face possible conflicts of interest while in office.

In a Pew Research Centre Poll that was released this month, at least 60% of the participants said Trump should release his tax returns. Only 38% of Republicans said that he should release the information.

Kellyanne Conway
Counselor to US President Donald Trump, Kellyanne Conway prepares to go on air in front of the White House in Washington on 22 January 2017 Carlos Barria/Reuters