Huckabee: Trump is right not to release his tax records

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 12, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: To release or not to release? That's the question.

Donald Trump has come under scrutiny for not releasing his tax returns for decades. Now, each presidential nominee has traditionally released them. But Trump says he can't release his because he's under a multiyear tax audit.

Trump spoke to me about this particular issue last night.


VAN SUSTEREN: People are suspicious that you are not releasing because in January of 2012 you said to me that Mitt Romney was making a big mistake by not releasing his. So, naturally, that's become a flash point.

DONALD TRUMP, GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, but he wasn't under audit. I'm under audit. No lawyer would say release it when you're under audit. And these are very simple audit.

VAN SUSTEREN: I agree, I'm a lawyer. I wouldn't have someone --

TRUMP: If you represented me and I'm under audit and it's a routine audit --

VAN SUSTEREN: I'd tell you not to release. I agree.

TRUMP: You would say not release, OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: If I were your lawyer.

TRUMP: So, the answer is not release. Hopefully, before the election, I'll release. And I'd like to release.


VAN SUSTEREN: Former presidential candidate himself, Governor Mike Huckabee goes ON THE RECORD.

Good evening, Governor.


VAN SUSTEREN: OK, Governor. There are two types of returns here. The returns he says under audit and then the returns not under audit, which if is he under audit for three years, I'm talking about four, five, six, seven eight years back. Should he release his tax returns?

HUCKABEE: Absolutely not. And let me tell you why? Biggest mistake I ever made, it was freshman candidate mistake was to release 20 years of tax returns. My first race, because I thought, well, gosh, everybody will really appreciate the transparency, the openness, the honesty.

Well, I learned something important, Greta. Never help load a gun that's pointed at your own head. And when you release your tax returns, which the law does not require you to do, you release very detailed financial information in the financial disclosure. Every candidate has to do that. There's far more information than in a tax return.

Let's face it, how many people do their own tax returns? Not many. Do you know why? Because they don't understand them.

And guess who else doesn't understand them? The IRS doesn't understand their own tax forms either.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, well, don't get me started on Congress. They write those laws and then not one of them can do his or her own tax return.

HUCKABEE: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: Here's a problem -- as a candidate, he sort of created this mystery because he went on the limb and went after Romney for not releasing his. He has a problem he said Romney should so why doesn't he? I get the audit stuff. If I were his lawyer don't release the audit.

But he's created this mystery. What could possibly be in those returns? Source of income we pretty much know a source of income, his charitable deductions and so I don't know what they are at all. He is very generous guy and I also, by the way, know he gives to many organizations that aren't 501c3. They can't deduct, so they won't appear there.

What's the big deal? End the mystery and release three years that aren't under audit.

HUCKABEE: Well, here's what he could do. He could get a CPA to do a summary of his taxes indicating those basic things, how much money he made, how much he gave to charity. But his tax returns are going to be hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of pages.

There's not very many people in the country dry and certainly not many reporters who are going to be able to understand.


HUCKABEE: Pick something out and do it.

I think that probably was a mistake. As big a mistake that Mitt Romney going after Donald Trump.

Greta, let me ask you a question. Do you know of any person either elected or not elected president of the United States because of the release of their tax returns or failure to release tax returns? The answer is no.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't think so either.

But, Governor, it's slightly different situation because he went after someone else for not doing it and he's created this little bit of a mystery that is dogging him. And if there is no big deal if he releases them, then he gets rid of the mystery so the dogs stop nipping at his heels over it and that's the end of it.

HUCKABEE: It won't be the end of it, that's the problem. He releases those tax returns and then he will get off message and every day some reporter is going to be asking about something on page 474 on the tax return. He needs to stick to his message.

He is the nominee for the Republican Party because he's talked about the fact that the general population of America, they don't have any money to report on their tax returns. He needs to keep fighting that battle and heck with these people who are demanding his tax returns.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you release yours as a candidate for with the president?

HUCKABEE: Not this time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Last time?

HUCKABEE: You know, I probably would have had I been the nominee. I can't remember if I did. I released a summary statement. I did do that, a summary statement that had all the pertinent information.

But, quite frankly, my tax returns were also complicated and if I had released them, nobody would have understood them. Heck, I don't understand them. That's why we need to get rid of the IRS and not have people release ridiculously complicated tax returns.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Just sort of for consistency I also think this is a slightly different issue that Secretary Clinton should release all the transcripts from her speeches because she likewise create that same sort of mystery and get dogs nipping at her heels. If she releases that, who knows, maybe you are right these things don't go away when you give taxes to reporters and speeches.

But anyway, Governor, nice to see you, sir.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, Greta.