On Wednesday, CNN’s Chris Cuomo clashed with Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) about whether President Donald Trump has a legal obligation to turn over his tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee upon request. When Duffy tried to claim that there was no legitimate purpose behind the request, Cuomo pointed out that the law was very clear — and that the administration cannot refuse to comply with it just because they don’t like the Congress.
“Why not just give over the taxes?” said Cuomo. “The law is pretty clear. They stated the purpose. That is all in the IRS manual. Just give them over.”
Duffy acknowledged that every other president in both parties has turned over their taxes as a matter of tradition, but insisted, “there has to be a legitimate legislative purpose, and to harass the president is not a legislative purpose that I think falls under that category.”
“That is an opinion, it is not in the law,” said Cuomo, “and in the IRS manual it lays out how you’re supposed to deal with requests from Congress, and there is nothing about some ancillary analysis about whether you like their reason. They gave you a reason, they have the power, you’ve got to give it over. This is dangerous stuff for you, Sean.”
“It’ll go to the courts,” Duffy dodged. “We’ll let the third branch decide whether those records have to be disclosed or not.”
“But why did the IRS have a draft memo from their lawyer say the opposite?”
“We don’t know where that came from,” said Duffy. “It wasn’t an official memo of the IRS. We don’t know who wrote it.”
“But it was an exact echo of what’s in their manual!” Cuomo interjected heatedly.
“It could have been an intern within the IRS,” said Duffy.
“You really think it was an intern?” said Cuomo disdainfully.
“Well who was it, Chris?” Duffy snapped.
“Probably one of their counselors who was asked to give an opinion about what to do.”
“Now you’re speculating,” said Duffy.
“Hold on a second, Sean, it is not on me to tell you who wrote it,” said Cuomo. “The document is legitimate, it comes from the IRS. It echoed what is in their manual. The onus is on you, or anyone else who wants to protect the president to say it’s bogus, not on me.”
“The onus on you is to report the official stance of the IRS. Which is not contained in that memo,” insisted Duffy.
“But it’s in the manual, and it’s the same as the memo.”
“And what we’re told is that you have to have a legitimate legislative purpose, and to harass the President of the United States because you want to continue the Russia farce investigation, have at it. But here’s my point, Chris. Let’s stop moving the goalpost. Let’s abide by the law. The president is not required to disclose his taxes, he does a summary, he did that. And on the last show you said Bob Mueller is the gold standard, whatever he said we have to abide by.”
At this point, the conversation devolved into an argument over whether Mueller’s report outlined obstruction of justice, which Duffy erroneously claimed it did not.
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