WASHINGTON — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday pledged to “sooner than later” make public 10 years of his tax returns and vowed to support the eventual Democratic presidential nominee, saying he held no grudges against the Democratic National Committee over his unsuccessful 2016 campaign.
Sanders appeared at a town hall hosted by CNN ahead of the official launch of his 2020 presidential campaign with events this weekend in Brooklyn, where he grew up, and Chicago, where he graduated from college. He joins a crowded field of nearly a dozen other contenders, including a number of fellow senators.
Asked Monday whether he would release a decade’s worth of his tax returns, as 2020 rival Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has already done, Sanders said that he would.
“Our tax returns will bore you to death, nothing special about them,” Sanders said, adding that his wife, Jane, does most of his taxes rather than using an accountant.
Sanders’ fellow contenders for the Democratic nomination have made similar pledges of transparency, in stark contrast with President Donald Trump, who has refused to release his tax returns, saying they are under audit. He is the only president in modern history to decline to do so.
During his first presidential bid, Sanders endured questioning by Hillary Clinton over why he had not released several years of his tax returns and had instead opted to release just his 2014 tax returns. Sanders said Monday that he would have released more of his tax returns had he been the Democratic nominee.
Sanders’ plan to release a decade’s worth of tax returns was first reported by National Journal.
Sanders took questions from attendees in Washington on a variety of issues, including allegations of sexual harassment and other mistreatment of female staffers who worked on his first presidential campaign.
Sanders said his 2018 senatorial campaign had instituted strong protocols to handle any incidents of harassment. He said that all staffers on his presidential campaign would receive training on harassment and would have access to an independent entity if they experience harassment.
“I was very upset to learn what I learned,” Sanders said, adding, “It was very painful, very painful.”
Sanders clashed with the DNC during his first White House bid, especially after WikiLeaks released stolen documents and emails in which DNC officials appeared to support Clinton’s campaign over Sanders’. Sanders said Monday that he did not have lingering issues with the DNC, despite believing the group was “not quite even-handed” in 2016.
“I think we have come a long way since then, and I fully expect to be treated quite as well as anyone else,” Sanders said.
In response to a question Monday, he defended the role he played as a surrogate for Clinton’s campaign after she won the nomination. He referenced an October 2016 letter sent to him by Clinton in which she thanked him for campaigning for her in multiple states.
Sanders said he would back the eventual 2020 Democratic nominee, whomever that may be.
“I hope and believe that every Democratic candidate will come together after the nominee is selected and make certain that Donald Trump is not re-elected president of the United States,” Sanders said. “I pledge certainly to do that.”
Asked how he would engage with Trump on the debate stage if he is the Democratic presidential nominee, Sanders said he would “bring a lie detector along.”
“Every time he lies, it goes ‘beep,'” Sanders said as the audience laughed. “That would be the first thing.”