Right after Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration at noon EST on Jan. 20, his administration took over whitehouse.gov, the official website of the White House. And within hours, someone used the site to start a petition demanding Trump release his tax returns.
President Barack Obama’s administration first added the “We the People” online petition system to the White House website in 2011. It allows Americans to create petitions on the site, share them, and sign them in order to get the attention of the President. The Trump Administration changed almost all the content on whitehouse.gov just after Trump was sworn in, but the petition system remains.
“Immediately release Donald Trump’s full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance” is the first petition on the new whitehouse.gov. “The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution,” it states.
As of this writing, it’s accrued 26,376 signatures. It needs to hit 100,000 by Feb. 19 to get a response from the White House, according to the website. That’s 82,603 more with a little less than 30 days to go.
Trump’s tax returns came up repeatedly during his campaign. The new president still has not released them or fully outlined his finances to the American people, breaking with tradition. Leaked pages of his 1995 tax return suggested he might avoided paying taxes on $916 million in income. The returns would also make it clear if Trump is in debt to foreign banks.
There are actually three petitions on whitehouse.gov as of this writing. The second is also a demand from before Trump was sworn in: “Divest or put in a blind trust all of the President’s business and financial assets.”
“In keeping with tradition and to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest, corruption, and violations of the emoluments clause of the US Constitution, President Trump should divest his financial and business holdings or have them administered by a truly blind trust,” the second petition states. It has 5,235 signatures as of this writing.
Given that Trump said last week at his first press conference since before the election that he didn’t think his business was a conflict of interest at all, it doesn’t seem like either of these petitions will be successful, even with 100,000 the signatures.
The third petition on the site is “Let American Farmers Grow Hemp Once Again to Create Jobs and Rebuild the Rural Economy.”