Trump walks back his pledge that tax reform won't make him richer

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump is walking back claims that he would not personally benefit from his tax reform plan.
  • After weeks of saying he would not personally benefit, Trump told Forbes recently that "everybody benefits."
Trump walks back his pledge that tax reform won't make him richer

After weeks of dubious claims by President Donald Trump that he would not personally benefit from his tax reform plan, and weeks of think tanks and fact-checkers detailing precisely how Trump stands to make millions if the plan is enacted, the president appears to be changing his tune.

During an interview earlier this month with Forbes, a transcript of which was released late Tuesday, Trump was asked point-blank whether he still held to his past assertions that he wouldn't benefit from his plan.

"Last week you said twice, both on the South Lawn and in Indiana, that you won't personally benefit from this new tax reform. Do you still hold to that?" Forbes reporter Randall Lane asked.

"Well, what I say is, that the, this whole concept, everybody benefits if the country does well. We all do. You guys benefit. Everybody benefits if the country does well," Trump replied.

The exchange didn't make it into Lane's final article. But Trump's answer could represent a new calculus by the president on an issue that was starting to prove thorny for the administration. It was also a significant departure from Trump's previous statements.

In late September, Trump had a very different answer when asked on the South Lawn of the White House whether he'd personally benefit from the tax plan. "No, I don't benefit. I don't benefit. In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, I think there's very little benefit for people of wealth," he said.

Later in the day, Trump said the tax overhaul was "not good for me, believe me."

"Tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected," Trump told a crowd in Indiana last month. "They can call me all they want. It's not going to help. I'm doing the right thing, and it's not good for me. Believe me."

Reached for comment about the apparent shift in Trump's responses, a White House spokeswoman told CNBC, "we have nothing more to add."

Trump tax reform clip

The day after the Indiana rally, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn told ABC's "Good Morning America" program that "Wealthy Americans are not getting a tax cut."

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin even has a phrase that was coined in his honor, which means "no tax cuts for the rich." The so-called Mnuchin rule refers to his pledge on CNBC late in 2016 that in a Trump administration tax plan, "there will be no absolute tax cut for the upper class."

But a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found otherwise. The study, based on what has so far been released about the tax plan, concluded that half of the tax benefits in the plan's first year would go to the top 1 percent of earners.

WATCH: Trump says he wouldn't benefit from tax reform

Trump says he wouldn't benefit from tax reform