Donald Trump ordered a senior aide out of the Oval Office, after accusing him of interrupting a television interview by coughing.
The US president told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to leave the room after his splutters distracted Trump as he answered a question about his finances.
“I don’t like that, you know, I don’t like that,” the famously germaphobic Trump said, referring to the coughing, which was attributed to Mulvaney.
“If you’re going to cough, please leave the room. You just can’t, you just can’t cough. Boy oh boy,” Trump added.
ABC News, which was recording an interview with Trump in the famous circular room at the White House, shared an unedited clip of the incident on Twitter.
Pres. Trump says he “might” turn over his “financial statement” to Congress.— ABC News (@ABC) June 17, 2019
“I hope they get it, because it’s a fantastic financial statement,” he tells @GStephanopoulos in the Oval Office. https://t.co/8q0FwFD9qtpic.twitter.com/fw1tIc0vxO
In it, Trump is asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he would ever release statements detailing his finances.
“At some point, I assume it’s going to be released,” Trump said. “The Senate... they’d like to get my financial statement.”
“At some point, I hope they get it because it’s a fantastic financial statement,” he added.
The interview revealed Trump believes the opening up of his finances for scrutiny is not a decision which lies with him or his office.
“It’s not up to me, it’s up to lawyers, it’s up to everything else,” he said when challenged about not releasing the information thus far.
His claim comes after Democratic lawmakers in the US Congress have repeatedly attempted to access Trump’s financial documents to make sense of the Republican president’s myriad business interests.
The Treasury Department has repeatedly blocked lawful attempts to allow lawmakers access to such information.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has defied a subpoena for Trump’s tax returns.
Mnuchin has alleged that Congress has no legitimate legislative purpose for the president’s tax declarations, the same claim the Trump administration has made in his repeated blocking of congressional investigations.
Democrats want Trump’s returns as part of their inquiry into possible conflicts of interest posed by his continued ownership of extensive business interests, even as he serves as president.
Trump has broken with a decades-old precedent among recent US presidents by refusing to release his tax returns while a presidential candidate in 2016 or since being elected, saying he could not do so while his taxes were being audited.
Numerous tax experts have said an audit should not be an obstacle to disclosing his returns.