As protesters readied for mass “Tax Day” demonstrations on Saturday, Rev. Al Sharpton slammed President Donald Trump for refusing to divulge his personal financial information, which has broken a White House tradition dating back to the late President Richard Nixon.
Speaking at his weekly rally at the Harlem headquarters of his National Action Network, Sharpton noted that thousands would take to the streets in a few hours to demand the president at long last disclose his full fiscal history and provide an account of his global business dealings. During the campaign season, Trump claimed he could not release his returns because he was under audit, which the Internal Revenue Service and other observers deemed a spurious excuse.
The then-candidate promised to disclose his tax details once the review was over—a promise he rescinded upon winning the presidency.
“They are raising the question of the president never having released his taxes. Why is that important?” Sharpton said. “Well, not only is it a tradition, but it is the only way you will know some of his business entanglements is to see the taxes and the income and the liabilities he owes to whom and for what.”
Sharpton, like other liberal critics, highlighted the high-profile ties of numerous disgraced Trump associates—including former campaign manager Paul Manafort, campaign advisor Carter Page and former national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn—to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, and further underscored reports that the commander-in-chief’s eponymous company has had dealings with Eurasian oligarchs. The civil rights leader insinuated the president has refused to release his returns because he has something to hide.
He further asserted that the U.S. missile attack on an airfield belonging to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally, earlier this month was little more than theater.
“They said they standing up to the Russians,” Sharpton said. “We need to know his financial dealings.”
The activist acknowledged the 2014 New York Times report that uncovered some $4.5 million in state and federal tax liens against him and entities he owned. Those reports spawned countless spinoff articles and memes shared on social media in conservative circles.
“You got trawlers that write in all over Facebook and stuff about taxes I done paid,” Sharpton complained. “They more interested in taxes I paid than they interested in the president and don’t know what taxes he did, didn’t do and where it come from. Because they hyped up the right wing into blindly defending him.”
On the eve of Easter, Sharpton also compared his journey from political pariah to a nationally televised pundit and advisor to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former President Barack Obama with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
“They done buried my career 30 times. But God called me and it don’t matter. Every day I walk into NBC, every day I walked into Obama’s White House, you thought I was waving at cameras—I was showing the nails in my hand,” he said. “I am he that you buried and God brought me back!”