BLACKWOOD, N.J. – Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton took aim at Donald Trump on taxes Wednesday and quickly found an unlikely ally: 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Clinton noted at a New Jersey campaign rally that Trump had yet to release his tax returns and said he would slash taxes for the nation’s wealthiest people if elected president.
Hours later, Romney issued a withering post on Facebook, accusing Trump of hiding a damaging revelation in his tax returns.
“There is only one logical explanation for Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his returns: there is a bombshell in them,” Romney wrote. “Given Mr. Trump’s equanimity with other flaws in his history, we can only assume it’s a bombshell of unusual size.”
Clinton and Romney called on Trump to release his tax returns following an Associated Press interview Tuesday, in which the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he doesn’t have an obligation to release the records and won’t do so until an audit of his finances is completed.
“There’s nothing to learn from them,” he said in the interview.
While Trump will likely face Clinton in the general election, the Democratic front-runner took a much softer approach than Romney in New Jersey, which holds a June 7 primary. When a man in the crowd yelled, “What about his tax returns,” Clinton said the nominees of both parties typically release them.
Clinton pointed out that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had put out more than three decades of tax records.
“You’ve got to ask yourself why doesn’t he want to release it,” she said.
The state’s governor, Trump ally Chris Christie, said it was “ironic” that Clinton was talking about the issue given her use of a private email address and server while serving as secretary of state.
“I hardly believe that Hillary Clinton is in any place to be giving a critique on transparency,” he said.
In challenging Trump on taxes, Clinton turned to a well-worn strategy that President Barack Obama used against Romney in 2012, pressuring him to release his personal taxes. Romney eventually made public two years of his tax returns.
Romney, who has been critical of Trump’s rise in the GOP primaries, rejected Trump’s reasoning for not releasing documents.
“There is nothing that prevents releasing tax returns that are being audited. Further, he could release returns for the years immediately prior to the years under audit,” Romney wrote.
Clinton delivered a broadside on Trump’s plans for the nation’s tax code, saying it would provide $3 trillion in tax cuts for those earning more than $1 million a year. She said his tax plan was “written by a billionaire for billionaires.”
Trump released a tax proposal in September that would reduce the number of tax brackets to four and envisions a top income tax rate of 25 percent, down from the current 39.6 percent.
Under his plan, no business of any size would pay more than 15 percent.
While low-income and middle-income earners would also pay less – couples earning $50,000 or less would send in a one-page form to the IRS declaring, “I win” – the plan would disproportionately benefit the wealthy as well as Trump himself.
Trump has recently backed away from the plan, describing it as a starting point for negotiations, and said he would try to do more to help the middle class. And he has said recently that he would support a higher rate for the wealthy than the rate he originally proposed.