Transcript for Democrats push for release of full Mueller report, Trump tax returns
Congresswoman jayapal, let me begin with you. I want to start by, as you know, president trump has been hitting back on Twitter on the Mueller investigation again. And he had this to say about Democrats. Anything we give them will never be enough. We could give them -- it's a 400-page report, right? We could give them 800 pages and it wouldn't be enough. They'll always come back and say, it's not enough. Congresswoman jayapal, how do you respond to that? What does congress need to see? Well, he should test that theory by releasing the entire report and the underlying information. I think he's not going to do that. It doesn't seem like Barr is going to do that. I think there's a real problem with a politically appointed attorney general who seems to have released a three-page report on the actual Mueller report. The only thing we have seen so far that now is seeming to not comport with what Mueller and his team actually prepared. So, we are very firm and we authorize, as you know, George, we authorized a subpoena. We haven't used a subpoena yet. We authorized a subpoena. Multiple subpoenas this week. I think the main thing here is, what is the president hiding? How do we make sure that we get everything that was produced? We have not seen a Mueller report. We have only seen a Barr report. We're going to stay firm on this. We're going to push hard. We think there's lots of precedent for us in the past to be able to do this. That's really, I think, the main thing is that the majority of the American people want to see the report. We have to do our job. There is some precedent for congress to get some of the grand jury information. The underlying information. That happened in watergate. A federal appeals court ruled this week that the release has to be part of a judicial proceeding. That means, congress is going to have to open up a formal impeachment inquiry in effect. In order to get that information. Are you willing to do that? It's not clear that that's what it means. Judicial proceeding could mean a number of things. It doesn't neesz necessarily mean impeachment proceedings. We are going to, I mean, the easiest thing here, and actually chairman Nadler has asked attorney general Barr to go to the court with him and say, we think that the public interest is very important. We believe this material should be released to congress. We understand that not all of it can be released to the public. We believe it should be released to congress. Because judiciary committee has jurisdiction over a number of things. And very important to know that we still Doan know what was in the Mueller report. What was in it around conspiracy. We know what the president says was in it. We certainly don't know what the underlying information was that attorney -- that special counsel Mueller felt he could not exonerate the president on obstruction of justice. That's a critically serious charge. On another front, Michael Cohen, his attorneys this week, sent a letter to Democrats on the judiciary committee asking you all to support a delay in his prison sentence so he can continue to cooperate with inquiries. It's my understanding he's met with committee counsel to work through some of the 1400 files. Will the committee Democrats support the petition? For a delay in his reporting to prison? I don't think we're there at that decision yet. We're evaluating what kind of information may be there. We had put forward 81 requests for information around a whole series of things that the judiciary committee has jurisdiction for. Much broader than the Mueller report. That is obstruction of justice. Abuse of power. And public corruption. Some of what Cohen may have may be useful. To those ipg inquiries. We need to get all of on our requests for information answers. Then we need to start on the process of subpoenaing some of this information. In the course of that, we can see whether there is something that Michael Cohen can still offer us that hasn't been provided yet in the underlying information. Thank you, congresswoman. I want to turn to the request for president trump's taxes. Let me begin, congressman Kildee. Thank you for joining us. A letter sent by president trump's attorneys sent to the treasury department to try to block the release of the president's return. They write it would be a gross abuse of pow for the majority party to use tax returns as a weapon to attack, harass, and intimidate their political opponents. Once this Pandora's box is opened, the ensuing tit for tat will do lasting damage to our nation. Your response? Well, it's certainly not a Pandora's box. This is legitimate authority that the congress has. This president, by the way, is the least transparent we have had in half a century. He's broken precedent by not releasing his tax returns. We wouldn't need to go through this exercise if he had done what he promised to do. Section 6103 grants to the chairman of the ways and means committee the right to order a tax return of a taxpayer in order to inform him and the committee on a subject that we are deliberating over. We're looking very carefully as to whether or not the irs is properly auditing and enforcing tax law on the president of the United States. And we're considering legislative changes toward that end. It is not up to president trump. It is not up to some lawyer that president trump hires, to determine whether or not this co-equal branch of government has the tools available to it to make the deliberations necessary in order to make policy. This is not an autocracy. The president does not get to decide for himself and for congress what a legitimate subject of inquiry might be. That's left to the congress. The courts may have to decide that. Meanwhile, the president's attorneys are questioning whether you have a legitimate legislative purpose involved here. They say you're focusing on the audit of the president. If that's your real concern, why not ask for audits of previous presidents? Or simply ask the irs to come up to the committee and explain the policy? Mainly because previous presidents in the last half century have released their tax returns. And it would be easy for not just congress but any member of the public to take a look at that and make determinations as to whether or not the tax laws of the United States are being properly administered and properly apied to the president. In this case, and particularly in this case, where you have a president that not only has very significant wealth, but made the unusual decision to continue to control that wealth and not to have a blind trust but pass on to his family with his full involvement, the ability to control his wealth. There's a real question, George, as to whether the president's personal financial interests impact his public decisionmaking. The public has a right to know whether the president's interests are impacting the decisions he makes using the authority that we have granted him by electing him as president. So -- this is -- the unusual situation is not congress using its authority to gain access legitimately under a clear statute. The thing that's unusual is Donald Trump has broken nearly 50 years of tradition by not being transparent with the American people. Are you worried about retaliation? Another section of the law gives the president the right to ask for the returns of top Democrats. The president and the congress have legitimate authority. The question is whether we're using that authority for legitimate purposes. We have a very legitimate public policy question that we're looking at. That's why chairman Neal has been so careful about this. Let's be clear. We're not asking for the returns to be made public. It's not even clear that other members of the committee, myself included, will ever see this information. This is specific to chairman Neal. He needs this to frame the questions we're trying to answer and the policies we're trying to enact. Anybody who knows donarump should be concerned about his abuse of authority. This wouldn't if he were to go down this path it wouldn't be the only example. I can just speak for myself. And I know chairman Neal. This is a guy, chairman Neal, who has been criticized for being overly cautious in the matter. And I think he's been right on this, by the way. This is a legitimate area of public policy. And a legitimate inquiry. The law is clear. 6103 says he can order the tax return. It should be delivered to him. No lawyer for the president should interfere or direct the irs or treasury department to ignore the law.
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