August 5th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
2 years ago

Graham, Gibbs tangle over Reid's allegations

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham strongly took issue with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's accusations that Mitt Romney has not paid taxes in 10 years, saying Sunday that the Democratic leader was "lying."

"What he did on the floor of the Senate is so out of bounds. I think he's lying about his statement, of knowing something about Romney," Graham said on CNN's "State of the Union."

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In a Huffington Post interview published Tuesday, the leading Democrat said that an unnamed investor with Bain Capital, Romney's former private equity firm, told Reid in a phone conversation that Romney had not paid taxes for a decade.

Reid stood by the allegations Thursday while speaking on the Senate floor.

"The word's out that he hasn't paid any taxes for 10 years," he said. "Let him prove he has paid taxes, because he hasn't."

Taking questions from the media after an event Friday, Romney responded to the allegations from Reid, reiterating his call for the majority leader to "put up or shut up."

"Harry, who are your sources? Let's have Harry explain who that is," Romney said.

The candidate said firmly, "I have paid taxes every year, and a lot of taxes, so Harry is wrong."

Echoing those sentiments Sunday, Graham said the majority leader was "making things up" to distract from the "real issues."

"I just cannot believe that the majority leader of the United States Senate would take the floor twice, make accusations that are absolutely unfounded, in my view, and quite frankly making things up to divert the real campaign away from the real issues," the South Carolina senator told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

Graham wasn't the only one expressing anger over the situation. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus piled on and called Reid a "dirty liar."

"I'm not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn't filed a single page of tax returns himself (and) complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz-Carlton here down the street," Priebus said the ABC News program "This Week." "And the fact that we're going to spend any time talking about it is ridiculous."

Reid defended his words in a statement Thursday night, saying Romney is "hiding something," and he called on the presumptive GOP nominee to release more tax returns.

"When it comes to answering the legitimate questions the American people have about whether he avoided paying his fair share in taxes or why he opened a Swiss bank account, Romney has shut up. But as a presidential candidate, it's his obligation to put up and release several years' worth of tax returns, just like nominees of both parties have done for decades," Reid said.

Responding to Graham's statements on Sunday, Reid's spokesman Adam Jentleson said in a statement it was "sad" that Romney "has forced his party to defend his decision to hide the truth about his tax returns."

"As Senator Reid has said, an extremely credible source informed him that Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for ten years," Jentleson said. "It's clear Mitt Romney is hiding something, and the only way for him to clear this up is to be straight with the American people and release his tax returns."

Romney has made public the full 2010 tax return and an estimate for 2011, with a pledge to release the full year once it's complete. He filed an extension for an October deadline.

Meanwhile, Romney's team has insisted that President Barack Obama's re-election campaign was encouraging Reid to make the attacks from behind the scenes.

Asked if Obama's team was pushing the majority leader to stay on the offensive, senior campaign adviser Robert Gibbs did not directly answer the question Sunday but further called on Romney to reveal more of his tax information.

"I think it's important that we know the financial background of candidates," Gibbs said on "State of the Union."

Obama's campaign has been at the forefront of calls for Romney to release more tax documents, insisting the presumptive GOP nominee make public as many as 12 years' worth, which his father, the late George Romney, released when he ran for president in the 1960s.

"We could put this to rest tomorrow. Mitt Romney can go to Kinko's, photocopy his tax returns. There are several hundred pages. He could hand them out to people like CNN and to reporters all over the country, and we wouldn't talk about this tomorrow. We wouldn't say, 'Is he paying taxes? What's he paying?' The whole world would know what loopholes he's taking advantage of," Gibbs said, adding he would provide Romney with nickels to make copies.

Romney, however, has repeatedly said he has paid his taxes in full and will not release anything further.

His campaign adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, said Thursday on CNN's "The Situation Room" that Romney has "never zeroed out his tax liability" and "has always paid 100% of what was owed."

One of Romney's biggest surrogates in the Senate, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, also came to Romney's defense on Thursday, saying Reid may have "gone over the line."

"To accuse someone of doing something without a shred of proof-that the allegation has any substance-is really something I, frankly, don't understand," McCain said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360.

McCain, whose 2008 presidential campaign reviewed Romney's tax records as they considered him to be the vice presidential running mate, said last month he can "personally vouch" that there was "nothing disqualifying" in the tax returns of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

- CNN's Dana Bash, Ted Barrett, Dana Davidsen, Kevin Liptak and Shawna Shepherd contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (132 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ California
    “Hussein Obama is behind this whole thing” not true
    OK , say its true . so what this is game “word fight” without any rules put up or release it

    August 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. cathstar

    Obama had to present his birth certificate. Romney has to present his tax returns. Since he seems reluctant to do so, it appears that he has something to hide.

    August 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Brian Macker

    The more I see this false story the more I understand that Democrats are not serious about the economy, and that the media is in their pocket.

    August 5, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. 1twinsfan

    Reid s not the kind to bandy about gossip. If he was told this, he was told this. The question is, was the person who said this knowledgeable on the matter? Just an investor? You know how these buddy-buddy guys are. "Hey, let me refer you to my tax guy. He's great. I haven't paid taxes in years."

    August 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  5. Dean

    Don't see why this is difficult unless he's hiding something. Putting your tax records on the table isn't an unusual request. Romney knows his records can't help him, but can hurt him. I'm betting it's the latter.....

    August 5, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. California

    Anonymous

    If they can make Obama provide his birth certificate to prove he's a citizen, then Romney can show us his taxes.
    -------------
    That took way over a year for him to prove.

    August 5, 2012 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  7. Mark Bernadiner

    Obama, show your real BS, not fake. Increased unemplyment from 8.2% to 8.3% means more jobs have been lost, than created.

    August 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Doc Rock

    I find it wildly entertaining at watch Romney supporters trying to defend him on this by talking about Ried, talking about Obama, talking about college transcripts (when they have a four year record as President to challenge Obama on) Harry Ried's taxes (He's not running for POTUS so only those in AZ can vote for him anyway, but not this year), ANYTHING and EVERYTHING....

    EXCEPT coming up with one single legitimate reason for why Romney is hiding his tax returns from the American people. They have no answer and will not exscape that, no matter how hard they try to spin and deflect.

    The guy CLEARLY has something to hide or he would release his tax returns, just like every other President has for the lasy FIFTY YEARS!

    Romney's not special and he doesnt get to reset the Standard that his own father set. Romney supporters understand this and they are desperately trying to change the subject. They will not succeed. This isnt going away until he releases his returns, or loses the election as a result. That's why Romney supporters are so scared and frustrated.
    Even many Republicans are insisting that he release his returns, but refuses. There must be some pretty shady info in there for him to risk his election to not release them.

    August 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Just do it

    Please just release the returns. Maybe "The Donald" can help out. Look at what he got President Obama to do. Has anyone notice how quite Donald Trump has been lately. I do believe this issue can be put to rest easily if Mitt Romney would just release them. He might not have anything to hide his but it appears he is hiding something. I wouldn't want to lose a race as important as this one just because I did not release my tax returns.

    August 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. Steve Lyons

    Reid needs to either subpoena the tax record in violation of federal law, or shut up.

    First off I'd like Harry to explain how he became a multimillionaire on a mere Congressional salary?

    Once he does that we can talk.

    August 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Pete/Ark

    y'know the TV ad for the used car evaluation service that can keep you from buying a lemon? "Just show me th' TaxFax !".

    August 5, 2012 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. atteloc716

    Honesty and Trustworthy are 2 traits that are needed for a president or any elected official, and he fails at both!
    Our tax system is based on these traits and when a person for public office cannot commit to releasing his taxes, when question's have been raised, then what does it say about their character?2010 tax return is incomplete when it comes to the swiss acct. and his campaign still has not released it?? It has been months on this issue and he just stonewalls just like he did as governor when serious question's were raised on and about his tax deductions to a residency issue they both lied back in 2002, his aide and him both play games.....!!
    Mitt is a "pennypincher" and thats what has him in trouble! He says he gives 10% to his church every year?????? maybe not? Mormans would see that as a lie. Maybe voters will see gift taxes being skirted? zero value on stocks given to foundations and shelters then they both pay interest out to the Romney's every year avoiding cap gains???
    There are many questions and the problem is not Reid it's his and always has been his.

    August 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. California

    vic , nashville ,tn

    @ California
    “Hussein Obama is behind this whole thing” not true
    OK , say its true . so what this is game “word fight” without any rules put up or release it
    -----------
    Reid made the accusation. The burden of proof is in fact on him.
    Sue Reid for slander.

    August 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. AJ

    Out of bounds? Like accusing a top aide to the Secretary of State of being a member of a Muslim extremist group? That's out of bounds, too. The Republicans started the wild accusations; now they're the ones crying foul.

    August 5, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Sarah

    Romney paid his taxes in planet Kolob.

    August 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. NotRepublicanTheseDays

    Tax returns or no tax returns Romney has been spineless in supporting stances he has taken. To say that he flip flops would be a grand understatement. Who wants a man in the White House who neither says what he means nor means what he says?

    August 5, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Rush

    In 2002, When he was running for Governor of Massachusetts, Romney refused to release his taxes....but that didn't stop him from making accusations about his opponent and their taxes. Oh yes, his opponent released HER taxes...but her husband didn't. Yet that didn't stop Mittens. He's part of the problem people.

    August 5, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. George

    To Brian Macker, did you know Bain Capital owns Clear Channels Radio network (Home to Limbaugh, Glenn Beck & Sean Hannity)? If the media is in either party's "pocket", it is the RNC that has taken ownership (literally) of it! Clear Channels is a mega network. Google it you will have your eyes opened! So Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck have their paychecks signed by Bain. It is perfectly Clear! (get it, Clear, Clear Channels!)

    August 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. USA first

    I bet we will find out that McCain's team never actually saw more than a years worth of Mitt's tax's. For people to assume his team did a thorough job of vetting a vp candidate... I present to you Sarah Palin. LOL This makes McCains comment mute.. and the only question still remaining. "What are you hiding Mitt?"

    August 5, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. California

    REID, PUT UP OR SHUT UP.

    It's just that simple. You made the accusation now back it up.

    August 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Josh

    Someone told me Reid's father killed himself because his son was a pederast.

    August 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. T'sah From Virginia

    ◄◄"Mitt Romney will be a different kind of president – a strong leader who stands by our allies... He knows America holds a deep and cherished relationship with Israel."◄

    What about our other allies Romney is CRAPPING on – It's not all about Israel!!!

    Obama 2012 – The Only Trusted Way Further!!

    August 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. Debra from Georgia

    They went after the President for his Birth Certificate. Against my approval he released his birth certificate. Romney need to release his tax returns. Harry Reid was total in his right, it is called protecting the American People.

    August 5, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. tcaros

    Draft dodger and tax dodger Romney.

    August 5, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  25. Susan

    "nothing disqualifying" is not the same as "paid taxes". If Romney takes advantage of every loophole under the sun , and I'm sure he does, and doesn't pay a penny or very many pennies, voters should know about it. I already grasp that he would not represent me well at all as President, I'm in the 99% that he does not care about or know how to relate to at all.

    August 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
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