Trump says public doesn’t care ‘at all’ about his taxes

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his first news conference on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.

President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his first news conference on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.

NEW YORK (CNN) – President-elect Donald Trump insisted at a news conference Wednesday that Americans “don’t care at all” about his unreleased tax returns.

“I’m not releasing the tax returns because, as you know, they’re under audit,” he said at the event, his first since becoming President-elect.

Trump’s comment are directly contradicted by most major public polls on the issue. A CNN poll from October found 86% of registered voters said they see paying taxes as every American’s civic duty.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns since declaring his presidential candidacy, arguing that he can’t release the information because he is under audit — an excuse that tax lawyers have said should not prevent him from releasing those documents, even as Trump continues to insist it’s the recommendation of his personal counsel.

“They’ve been under audit since the 1970’s,” a reporter began, but Trump interrupted. “Gee, I’ve never heard that. I’ve never heard that. You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They’re the only ones,” he said.

“You don’t think the American public is concerned about it?” the reporter followed up.

“No, I don’t think so. I won. And became president,” Trump said. “No, I don’t think they care at all. I don’t think they care at all. I think you care.”

Trump was asked if he would release his tax returns to prove that he doesn’t have business and financial ties to Russia that could be used as leverage against him — a concerning prospect raised by a CNN report Tuesday that heads of the US intelligence community had briefed Trump on allegations that Russian agents had compiled compromising information on the new president.