It’s not the first time Mark Sanford has asked Donald Trump to release his tax returns.
But Tuesday’s call from the U.S. representative from South Carolina’s 1st District might have been more pointed than his previous requests.
That’s because it came after President Trump’s controversial summit and news conference in Helsinki on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump was widely criticized for saying he saw no reason to believe Russia interfered in the 2016 election.
Though Trump said Tuesday he misspoke on that specific point, that did not end criticism of the nature of the summit with the Russian leader.
When Republican Sanford was asked about the issue by Washington Post reporter Robert Costa, he did not dismiss the possibility.
Instead, South Carolina’s former governor used it as an opportunity to say Trump should release his tax returns. Costa posted the exchange on Twitter, noting that Sanford said if Trump released his taxes it would clear things up, saying the president should take action this week.
Costa tweeted that Sanford told The Post that “ ’I don’t know’ if Russia has anything on the president” and that he “wants more answers on the president’s finances.”
Sanford has asked Trump to release his taxes a number of times. Sanford has gone as far as endorsing an effort made by Democrats to force Trump to release his tax returns to the House of Representatives and Senate committees that have oversight of the IRS, The Hill reported.
Prior to the 2016 presidential election, Sanford endorsed Trump over Hillary Clinton, with one caveat — releasing his taxes. Sanford wrote an op-ed in The New York Times titled “Mark Sanford: I Support You, Donald Trump. Now Release Your Tax Returns.”
Trump was the first presidential candidate since Gerald Ford, in 1976, not to release his tax returns, according to politifact.com, which added that Ford did release summary tax data.
Sanford’s latest request will likely be as unsuccessful as his previous attempts, and it could further alienate the South Carolina Republican from the president.
Prior to the Republican primary for the 1st District, Trump endorsed challenger Katie Arrington, instead of Sanford, the incumbent. Trump gloated after Sanford was defeated, calling him “a nasty guy” in a meeting with House Republicans, according to CNN. Trump’s “nasty guy” comment was reportedly met with some “boos,” Fox News reported.
Trump followed that with another veiled shot at Sanford, coming as the president visited the Palmetto State to endorse Gov. Henry McMaster, who faced a runoff for the Republican primary.
Sanford is “a guy I’ve never liked much,” Trump told the crowd when he visited Columbia.
Then he dug in, noting Sanford’s infamous scandal while he was serving his final term as governor.
“Tallahassee Trail, it must be a very beautiful place. Unfortunately, he didn’t go there,” Trump said to the crowd.
Trump likely meant the Appalachian Trail. That’s where Sanford said he was hiking when it turned out he was in Argentina having an extramarital affair.
Sanford has said he does not understand why he has become an object of scorn for Trump.
While Sanford has been a vocal critic of Trump, he said their dynamic is not “a feud” — instead calling Trump’s actions an “assault,” postandcourier.com reported.
In addition to his latest call for Trump to release his tax returns, Sanford has tried to curtail Trump’s use of tariff’s to stoke trade wars.