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. Craig

    This is a very serious issue and Romney will pay tremendously by not showing his taxes. Apparently what's in the returns is worse than not showing them. By the way, Reid is a very careful, measured man....he's not making the "nonpayment " of taxes up.

    August 5, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. WKNDTHG

    How did mit put it "what's good for the goose is good for the sauce" ...

    August 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. another truther

    It's simply amazing how the Reps are trying to hide the facts, spin the lies and continue to claim they represent the will of the people. After the worst economic crisis in our lives they want you to believe they care and that their talking head candidate can solve what ills us. The reality is Romney and his ilk are the problem, greed is a powerful incentive. C'mon big talker, release your tax returns and show us what a responsible Pro-American businessman truly pays under this fair tax system!!

    August 5, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. Doc Rock

    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.
    -----------------

    NO, it didnt....It took over a year after he released his legitimate Short Form that everyone in many states get to prove their birth, just that a bunch of nut bags refused to accept it, and falsely called it a fake. Just because some nutbags wanna call it fake doesnt mean he didnt prove it BEFORE he was elected.

    Why do you keep talking about Obama anyway.....he's released his tax returns?

    You folks arent getting away with this and neither is Romney. He will release more returns or he will lose the election. Americans wont elect a guy who tells them..."two years of returns is all you need to see and all you're gonna get"

    August 5, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. Edwin

    The only thing we know for sure is "Leading From Behind" doesn't work!

    August 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. California

    False accusations and even out right slander is what Reid is all about.

    August 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Mike from Floria

    Mitt Romney: PUT UP OR SHUT UP - PROVE YOU PAID INCOME TAX!!

    August 5, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  8. You People Aint Seeing Our Tax Returns

    No...no ... you don't need to see the TaxFax....this car was only driven once a month to church on Sundays by a little old lady ....trust me.

    August 5, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. RS, CA

    Obama 2012 - The Sure Way to Destroy the Country Forever!

    August 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Mike from Floria

    I don't understand why this is difficult? Romney's dad did it, many politicians have done.
    Just show your taxes.. we're all wondering what you're hiding which is bad because I really -didn't- think it was that big of a deal but considering how fiercely Romney is pushing back, now I -do- think it's a big deal. I pay a lot of taxes, I don't have have shelters, havens or tax attorneys. I do NOT want a president who gets to play by different rules!!

    August 5, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. FFFFFFbOY

    Well someone needs to FOIA the IRS to get Romney's returns it costs 57 bucks a pop. Anyone got 570 dollars laying around?

    August 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  12. another truther

    You don't need to know who I was, only who I say I'll be!!

    August 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. PhilG

    LOL-Reid is BRILLIANT!

    While Romney's corporations might have paid taxes-Mitt's cpa's may well have made sure he DID'NT pay taxes for the last ten years!

    The only real way Romney can silence this is to reveal ten years of tax returns.

    Ha ha ha-gotta love that Harry Reid.

    August 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Mitt the twit is not the solution,he's the problem. Now he's in bed with the tea potty and still won't release those tax returns

    August 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  15. Hawk in Texas

    I can't se how any one even tea party or straight republican can not see that romney is hiding something. when he said that he paid taxes a lot of taxes we all do every time you buy something you pay taxes. but he did not say that the taxes he paid were his income taxes. what kind of a write off does he get from spending $77.000.00 a year upkeep on his horse. not to mention all his homes. Romney has lied constantly about his wealth. he also lied about where he was living when he ran for governer. also why did he wipe out all state harddrives on the computers when he left office. anyone that votes for him is going against all that america stands for.

    August 5, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  16. jesse james. take them to street and shoot them like the dogs they are

    Robme make reid a lier and release your tax returns.

    August 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. joey

    The Republicans spent the past 4 years chasing the president's birth certificate. Now they wanna complain about Romney's tax returns? Every presidential canidate releases multiple years of tax returns. Just release them and shut up. And why is 2011 still not done? I had to get mine done on time.

    August 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Retired Army Officer

    In 2008, when Romney wanted to be Vice President, he furnished 23 years of tax returns to the McCain campaign; in 2012, when Romney wants to be President, he should furnish 23 years of tax returns to the American public.

    August 5, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. revolting peasant

    I have a question for republican supporters and conservative independents - are you guys curious to see what's in Romney's tax returns or at least curious to know why he's reluctant to share?

    August 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ California
    “Sue Reid for slander” first Romeny has to release his tax return to prove that he paid all the tax then he can go after Reid

    In politics “Slander” Joke , if it’s true then our courts will full with political slander cases

    August 5, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. MagicPanties

    Mitt the Twit needs to shut up and put up his tax returns for the last 10 years.

    August 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. James PDX

    Everyone knows there is no valid reason for Mitt to keep his taxes hidden. So even if everything is on the up and up, no one will believe it. He may be a smart man when it comes to business, but when it comes to people, he's clueless.

    August 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Eric

    Nearly half of Americans do not paying any federal taxes. Does that make 50% of the country not fit to serve? Why not make everyone's tax returns available to everyone while we are at it? Who here supplies tax returns to their prospective employers? And oh, I heard Harry Reid is a pedophile. Someone called me up with knowledge and told me that.

    August 5, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. The Film Professor

    There is a VERY easy way to settle this, and we all know what that is.

    R*Money has to release those tax returns. So just ask yourself why he continues to fail to do so, when that could SO easily clear this up.

    August 5, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. jimmy G

    I'm loving seeing republicans getting their tiny panties in a bunch over this issue. The complaints are especially ironic after months of birther coverage. Only one way to know the truth: release the returns.

    August 5, 2012 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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