By Jon Dougherty
GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana has a reputation for using folksy frankness to discuss current issues of the day, and he brought his brand of down-home common sense toÂ CNN on Friday to discuss Democrats’ attempts to force the IRS to turn over POTUS Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Kennedy was discussing the issue with host Jake Tapper regarding Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) sending a written request to the IRS as the chair of the House Ways & Means Committee to get the president’s tax returns after POTUS has refused to release them for more than two years (because he isn’t required to).
“Jake I will be very blunt,” said Kennedy. “Chairman Neal, powerful man, head of Ways and Means,” he said. “I know he’s an adult but I don’t think he’s like a real adult.”
Continuing, Kennedy said of Neal: “He says that he needs Trump’s tax returns, he’s said it’s policy, not politics,” Kennedy continued. He has said, I think on CNN, that the reason he needs them is that he needs to determine how well the IRS is auditing taxpayers. I can’t believe he really thinks the American people are gonna fall for that.
“It must really suck to be that dumb!” he noted.
“Look, this is very simple,” the LouisianaÂ Republican continued. “Mr. Neal wants to screw with the president. He doesn’t think the president oughta be president. Well, you know, words can’t express how much I don’t care.” he exclaimed.
“It’s not Mr. Neal’s call,” Kennedy said. “The American people have chosen Donald Trump as president. If you don’t like it, in two years you can vote against it. In the meantime, don’t screw with him, let him try to be president!”
He’s right and we agree:
But Kennedy was just getting warmed up.
“Now Mr. Neal is not in good faith, nobody believes he’s in good faith,” he continued. “This is wildly dishonest, this is thoroughly in bad faith, and I don’t blame the president for pushing back.”
As I noted yesterday here, there is no constitutional or statutory requirement for presidents to reveal their tax returns to Congress or the general public. There is, apparently, an IRS rule that says the agency “shall” provide to Congress, for ‘oversight’ purposes, any American citizens’ taxpayers so they can be reviewed in closed session.
But anyone who’s been covering Washington politics for more than 10 minutes, especially since POTUS Trump came to town, knows that Democrats don’t want to do ‘oversight,’ they want to comb the president’s returns for anything they can use to embarrass him or help defeat him in 2020 — by leaking their contents.
As for the rule, I believe the president can challenge the IRS regulation on Fourth Amendment grounds but also, I will add, on national security grounds; presidential financial records could be improperly used by a foreign power to gain leverage over the commander-in-chief in ways detrimental to America.
Kennedy made some of the same points.
“There’s no requirement that he turn over his taxes. If I were running for president would I turn over my taxes? Yeah. But there’s no requirement,” Kennedy said.
“And Trump said I’m not gonna turn over my taxes, they’re being audited. The American people knew that when they voted for him, or didn’t vote for him. He won the election!”
“And Mr. Neal,” he continued, “I don’t mean any disrespect, but he’s not fooling anybody, he just wants to get these taxes so he can screw with the president!”
“You can vote against him but enough is enough,” Kennedy concluded.
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