MSNBC’s Ari Melber welcomed Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman to “The Point” on Sunday to talk about how President Donald Trump is not the first president in modern history to attempt to conceal his tax returns from the public. With a special counsel appointed to dig deeper into the murk around Trump’s team and the Russian government, the matter of his tax returns becomes even more of an issue.
“Historians note Nixon had questionable tax practices like the million dollar deduction he took for transferring presidential papers to the federal government’s national archives,” Melber said. “But that deduction actually expired when Nixon took office in ’69, which meant he couldn’t take it under the current law at the time. So, he tried to take it under the old law by having a lawyer falsify the records so it looked like he had made the donation earlier.”
“A secretive approach to taxes certainly rings a bell today,” he said, before asking Ackerman for his views on the similarities and differences between Trump’s and Nixon’s situations.
“All presidents from Harry Truman up had taken advantage of the fact that you could deduct a gift of papers,” Ackerman said. “And what he did differently was, in 1969 Congress changed that law, and not only did he back-date the deed, but he also lobbied pretty heavily to try and keep the law the way it was so he could continue to take that tax deduction.”
He continued, “I think there’s some direct parallels here in the sense that, look, Nixon was to minimize paying as little tax as possible. One of the ways to do that was to make these contributions of papers, and the one way around all that, ironically, was that by putting in place a taping system in the White House, you could donate tapes, not papers, but tapes. That was an exception to the ’69 Tax Reform Act.”
Melber said that he had never realized that about the tape system at the White House, that it was Nixon’s desire to pay less income tax that induced him to tape every word spoken in the Oval Office.
Furthermore, Ackerman said, Trump is aping Nixon’s actions by attacking leakers and the press by making whistleblowing a prosecutable offense. Nixon sued the New York Times in an effort to keep the paper from publishing the Pentagon Papers.
Last week, it came to light that Pres. Trump spoke with now-former FBI Director James Comey about trying to jail journalists who published leaked documents.
Watch the video, embedded below: