Hillary Clinton’s release of her latest tax return is an act of political provocation. The Clintons have unveiled their tax documents before—their returns back to 1977 are public—so Friday’s disclosure of the 2015 numbers wasn’t particularly novel. But the campaign’s timing is deliberate: Donald Trump, who refuses to release his own returns, is having an especially bad couple of weeks on the campaign trail, giving the Clinton camp an opportunity to apply more pressure at a vulnerable moment.
Clinton’s intentions were clear in the campaign’s release Friday: Her team posted the documents on the campaign’s website with a title hitting Trump (“Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine release tax returns while Donald Trump defies decades-old tradition of disclosure”) and posted a video quoting conservatives pushing Trump to disclose his returns. “For the last 30 or 40 years, every candidate for president has released their tax returns, and I think Donald Trump should as well,” Senate majority leader and Trump endorser Mitch McConnell says in a clip. It also quotes Trump himself, from a 2012 interview about former candidate Mitt Romney’s returns: “If you didn’t see the tax returns, you would think there is almost, like, something wrong. What’s wrong?” The “something wrong” with Trump’s own returns could be anything, his critics allege: that he doesn’t make that much money; that he hasn’t donated much to charity, despite his claims of generosity; that his businesses could link him with unsavory actors, though CNN recently debunked a claim his returns could reveal ties to Russian oligarchs; or that he hasn’t paid very much in taxes at all—something he’s hinted at in the past.