Carville to Dems: Stop obsessing over Trump

[CUOMO]

(NewsNation) — A House committee voted to make public the tax returns of former President Donald Trump, with the Democratic majority on the panel arguing it was necessary for legislative reasons.

James Carville isn’t buying it.

In a report released Tuesday night, the House Ways and Means Committee said the tax returns show a need for reform at the IRS, specifically more stringent audits of presidents’ taxes.

Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist who advised Bill Clinton, said the release makes him “queasy” and added that Democrats need to stop obsessing over Trump.

“Democrats have to get over it. Trump is gone,” he said Wednesday on “CUOMO.” “He is not a threat to the Democratic Party. He’s the Republicans’ problem, let them deal with it.”

The report indicated the Trump administration may have disregarded an IRS requirement dating back to 1977 that mandates audits of a president’s tax filings. The IRS only began to audit Trump’s 2016 tax filings on April 3, 2019, more than two years into Trump’s presidency and just months after Democrats took control of the House. That date coincides with Rep. Richard Neal, the panel chairman, asking the IRS for information related to Trump’s tax returns.

The 29-page report was published just hours after the committee voted along party lines to release Trump’s tax returns in the coming days, raising the potential of additional revelations related to the finances of the one-time businessman who broke political norms by refusing to voluntarily release his returns as he sought the presidency.

Democrats on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee argued that transparency and the rule of law were at stake, while Republicans countered that the release would set a dangerous precedent with regard to the loss of privacy protections.

“It just makes me a little queasy, a branch of government making anybody’s income tax returns public,” Carville said. “I don’t know that we learned a whole lot new.”

David Cay Johnston, a journalist and professor at Syracuse College of Law, said the report makes it clear there’s tax fraud.

“If Donald Trump as president of the United States was engaged in calculated deceptions and unlawful behavior … at a minimum he should be forced to pay what he owes, and secondly he’s liable for criminal prosecution,” Johnston said.

Trump has boasted for years that he has exploited loopholes in the tax code to avoid paying, asserting during a 2016 presidential debate that he was “smart” for doing it.

That’s part of the bigger picture, Johnston argued, of the IRS in general not going after high-level tax cheating. A government report found that the audit rate of Americans earning more than $5 million plummeted from 16% in 2010 to 2% in 2019.

“There’s massive cheating going on at the top and we’re not going after it,” Johnston said. “But if you, or me, or most of your listeners try to cheat on our taxes, we can’t.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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