'We don't have a requirement that presidents' release tax returns: Jay Sekulow

On "This Week," George Stephanopoulos interviews Trump legal team member Jay Sekulow about the Democrats' push for the president's tax returns and the full Mueller report.
7:46 | 04/07/19

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Transcript for 'We don't have a requirement that presidents' release tax returns: Jay Sekulow
president. Thank you both very much. We're going to bring in Jay sekulow. You heard the congressman, Jay, say, the law is pretty clear. I have read the law. It does say the irs shall turn over the returns after a legitimate request from the chairman. And the supreme court has said that you can do that if you have a legitimate legislative purpose. And with due respect to the congressman, he said there's been a lack of transparency. He thinks the president should have put forward his tax returns before he announced or when he announced his candidacy for president. Which sounds interesting. But unfortunately, it's not the law for the United States. We don't have a requirement that presidents do that. This president decided not to because he has an ongoing irs audit. That's number one. What is the legitimate legislative purpose? Number two is the supreme court has said on multiple occasions that congressional oversight cannot become law enforcement. The idea that the real reason that the congress and chairman Neal has asked for the documents is because they want to know if the irs is doing its job auditing the president. They could ask the irs what job are they doing? What are the audit procedures? The idea that you can use the irs as a political weapon is incorrect both as a matter of statutory law and constitutionally. We should not be in a situation where individual private tax returns are used for political purposes. As you just said, George, what stops another party from doing the same thing? And by the way, a lot of these congressmen and women -- Is the president going to do that? No, no. He hasn't. Congress has. A majority of the -- the majority party in the house has. The president has not. The president has not asked for Nancy Pelosi's tax returns. Which, by the way, and it's in the letter that my colleague sent forward on this issue. They have not asked for or now for have produced. They have not produced their tax returns. It's not a requirement that they do, by the way. So this idea that you're using a hearing. A ways and means hearing about irs enforcement as a way to get to the president's private individual and business tax returns makes no sense both constitutionally and statutorily. I think this is going to be, if necessary, we're not at that point yet, if it has to be litigated, it will be. It's the decision of the irs commissioner. Is the president going to order the irs commissioner not to turn them over? The president is not ordering anything. What we've done -- and I disagree with the congressman here, George. Adds the president's counsel we have the right to protect his interests. As a private citizen. And as president. And so what you have to look at here is -- the idea that congress would say, I'm not very happy with the way George Stephanopoulos is handling his interviews with various members of my party. I'm going to look at his tax returns. If I was your lawyer, I would be objecting. And by the way, I do have a right to object. And my colleagues that authored the letter have the right to reject. That's what's been done here. The constitution and statutes need to be filed. 6103, overall, so you know is a confidentiality provision. With limited exceptions and -- again, there has to be a legitimate legislative purpose. The congress said that -- By the way -- The congressman said they're not contemplating releasing it. They said this would be for the chairman to review. I want to turn to the Mueller report. Hold it, George. Not contemplating they're releasing it? They release it, it's a felony. So of course they can't release it. This idea we're not contemplating releasing it. They need to read section 6103. 6103 says, if a person releases it, it's a crime. They could vote to release it in closed session. But I take your point on that. Let's move on to the Mueller investigation. It seems from the president's tweets over the last few days and his comments and those of your colleague, Rudy Giuliani, that there seems to be some concern that the full report may be more damaging than the Barr summary. Do you share that? No. Because there's two conclusions that are important here to reiterate. That is, in general Barr's letter, he said I'm only going to discuss the principal conclusions. And what were those? No obstruction. No collusion. On the obstruction piece, he noted, the office of special counsel said there were difficult questions of law and fact and they would not make the determination. They're not saying the president committed a crime. They're not saying he was exonerated. Which, by the way, special counsels don't exonerate. So I don't even know hi that line is in this. But nevertheless, it is. I think what you're seeing in this discussion about people inside the special counsel's office that are concerned is the -- if this is true, that there are members of the team leaking their concerns about the way things have been praised to the public I think is problematic, number one. Number two, they probably had legitimate disagreements inside the department of justice on how things should move forward. One way or another. The fact is, obstruction by tweet, one of the theories being advocated here. I never took as a basis for obstruction. And by the way, neither did the special counsel, evidently, because their report says they're not making that conclusion. And they said difficult questions. When you have difficult questions of law and fact, you know what you don't do? You don't recommend prosecution. We don't know what they did recommend. We'll see that perhaps in the does the president still support the full release of the report and the underlying documents? The president says he turned this over to the attorney general. The attorney general, pursuant to the regulations, George, makes the determination of what is released. How it's released. You have the whole issue, as you noted earlier, with grand jury material. That has to be redacted. You can't release grand jury material. That is also a felony. You have situations where people may have been looked at but not charged. That would be inappropriate. You have methods regarding national security interests. There's a process going forward. I think it's moving quickly. The attorney general got out his letter putting forward the principal conclusions quickly. He said you'll have it by the 15th or soon E. That's why I find it I ronnic that people are talking about subpoenas already when we're about a week away from getting From some of the documents. Final question on Michael Cohen. We heard the congresswoman address that issue. In a memo that his attorneys had accompanying that letter, they point out evidence they believe shows evidence that he -- wrong doing by the president and his allies. One said trump knew with certainty that Cohen continued to discuss the Moscow trump tower project well after January 31, 2016. And he was called and told his client was happy. They put this under the heading of subborning perjury. As part of the effort to subborn perjury. Were you that attorney? And how do you respond? I'm not going to discuss communications that may or may not have happened. With any of us within the context of a join defense. Michael Cohen's lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Michael Cohen drafted that particular aspect of -- he drafted his entire testimony, including the timing of the purported project in Russia. It was his words. He would know if they were truthful or not. No one else would have had that information. You're not denying you might have been the attorney that made that phone call? There is no lawyer that is going come on your program and discuss what may or may not have been discussed within the context of a possible joint defense. That's just not going to happen. No lawyer would do that. I'm certainly one of those

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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