Giuliani was confirming claims he made Sunday morning to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo. This new story, however, seems to undermine the president’s excuse that he can’t release his returns because they are under audit, a line he has been repeating since the 2016 campaign.
Last Thursday, following the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling that the Manhattan district attorney can subpoena the president’s tax returns, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated the excuse to reporters, saying, “The media’s been asking this question for four years, and for four years, the president has said the same thing, his taxes are under audit, and when they’re no longer under audit, he will release them.”
In a separate case about Congress requesting the president’s financial documents, which the court effectively delayed until after the election, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had pushed the audit issue with one of Trump’s attorneys, who avoided responding directly.
“Every president voluntarily turned over his tax returns, so it gets to be a pitched battle, because President Trump is the first one to refuse to do that,” she said this spring. “Initially, he said because of an audit was ongoing. Now, it seems to be broader than that.”
In 2019 an IRS whistleblower turned evidence over to Congress reportedly showing “inappropriate conduct” on Trump’s returns.
But Giuliani said that prosecutors have “no reason to believe that there’s anything wrong with his tax returns,” because “all of them have been audited, all of them have either been passed on or settled.” The former mayor of New York City allowed for an exception: “maybe not the last one.”
Giuliani added this in a text message, which we publish verbatim:
Since there are. Always extensions can’t be sure. Really not sure if there is one or two not completed but almost all are and they are done.
Those last “one or two” would be the returns has Trump filed as president. “The last one” would be fiscal year 2018, the year Giuliani says he took on Trump as his client, pro bono.
When Salon asked Giuliani if he meant that Trump’s returns had been audited each year up through 2018, Giuliani replied that he “didn’t specify.”
The former face of Fraud Guarantee LLC explained that these specific claims of fact about Trump’s returns had derived from his “general knowledge of how taxes are handled.”
He did not respond when asked whether this meant that he himself had also been audited every year, and that this was a common experience for people.
“All you have to do is know how they work and most are gone now or an action would be brought because of statute of limitations,” Giuliani said in a text message.
Whatever his protestations, Giuliani appears to have made conclusive claims about knowledge of facts regarding his client that pertain directly to an ongoing criminal investigation.
The Manhattan DA’s office had sought eight years of Trump’s business and tax records in connection with its investigation into hush-money payments made on Trump’s behalf just ahead of the 2016 election.
Trump and the Trump Organization both reimbursed Michael Cohen, Giuliani’s predecessor as the president’s former personal lawyer and fixer, for payments made to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels. Cohen was also involved in payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal. Both women claim to have had affairs with Trump.
While Giuliani appeared to be attempting to defend his client, however, he seems instead to have directly contradicted Trump, including official White House statements given as recently as last week.
Those claims of fact would seem on their face to violate attorney-client privilege, a favorite exit ramp for Giuliani, which he has used numerous times throughout the Ukraine impeachment saga in media interviews about his relationships with Trump, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman and husband-and-wife attorney team Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing. At the time, Trump also alluded to the privilege.
In 2017 Giuliani told Fox News personality Sean Hannity that Trump had repaid Cohen for the Daniels payoff.
“They funneled through a law firm, and the president repaid it,” he said.
“Oh. I didn’t know that,” Hannity replied. “He did?”
“Yep,” Giuliani said.