August 5th, 2012
11:00 AM ET
6 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. Dnick47

    Republican are the sorriest bunch of spoiled brats the world has seen. For four years the outlandish cliam made by the tebagger-republicans have not is the least been shouted down by the RNC but now Mitt's terror in release his tax forms is suddenly "dirty pool" .... if Mitt's got nothing to hide, why is he hiding it? I recall Nixon's doing the same thing with the Watergate tapes: "I am not a crook!" and "There is nothing in them of value," and so on but when they were released, Nixon resigned in disgrace less then a week later. Ditto Mitt.

    August 5, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. Peikovianyii

    He is guilty of having a large income without following the instructions, and the collective will, of the community. What a new breed of crawling vermin are our cyborg revolutionaries.

    August 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  3. ed

    When Obama was called by Trump a non-american born citizen, Obama shut him down by releasing his long form birth certificate. If Romney wants to shut Reid, all he needs to do is release his 10 year taxes.
    Of course, maybe he is going to release it at the very end to make the democrat look like fools. But unless I see his taxes, I will not trust the guy and I am one Republican who is voting democrat.

    August 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. sgurdog

    Show us the money Mitt! If proof is on your side then you can nip this one in the bud before you're stuck with the label of tax dodger.

    August 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Larry L

    Release the tax returns and if you're right – and you look like a future President. If you're wrong – you look like a slimy politician who can never tell the truth and is out to cheat Americans out of the tax money he should have paid. Since he won't release his returns the answer is obvious!

    August 5, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. kathy/Minnesota

    Lindsey "SHOULD NOT" even comment on this subject, wasn't he the one who said it's the american way to hide your taxes, etc? And now he wants to tell Harry Reid about lying? LIKE REALLY ARE YOU SERIOUS? Cant have it both ways. You called Harry Reid a liar, but said it was the american way to be a LIAR........Which is it?

    August 5, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Wanderer


    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.

    California: It took Obama over a year to provide the BC because he’s already the POTUS. Romney is not yet the POTUS and due to the fact that he has been flip-flopping and therefore the Americans need to know more about how honest Romney is before they decide who they will elect. Of course, nobody is 100 percent honest, but we the Americans want to choose the best with the most honesty. Besides, if Mr. Romney did in fact pay tax, his tax returns should be available and no need for us to wait.

    August 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  8. Adventure49

    The only person that can resolve this is Romney and he chooses not to. The fifth amendment may protect you in a court of law, but it won't in the court of public opinion. If Romney continues to stonewall on his tax returns, I don't know how you can blame anybody for thinking the worse.

    August 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Wes Scott

    If the Repubs and Tea Party had not spent over four years falsely claiming that Obama is not an American by birth, and that his birth certificate is a fake, then Romney might have some semblance of justification for telling Harry Reid to "Put up or shut up." The fact remains that regardless of other considerations it is a time honored tradition for presidential candidates to release multiple years of tax returns so that "the American people can know that their President is not a crook!" If Romney has nothing to hide, then why is he so reluctant to release his tax returns? Obviously, he has quite a lot to hide.

    August 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Lenny Pincus

    Note the Great and Good Mitt never says "income" taxes and therein lies the rub.

    August 5, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. Larry L


    Nearly half of Americans do not paying any federal taxes. Does that make 50% of the country not fit to serve?
    No, in most cases that makes those people poor. In some cases, like that of Romney, it makes those people so rich they have special loopholes to allow them a free ride. The unfair nature of these loopholes is why Romney refuses to release his tax returns – he knows they're unfair and makes him look like what he is – a greedy fat-cat.

    August 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. dnokc

    I'm certain if the IRS were displeased with Mr. Romney's tax's, we would have heard from them lbefore now.

    August 5, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. bspurloc

    Mittens cant even run on his Failed Mass Governorship.....
    lets see 08 07 and how much money u made on Iranian Oil.....
    Or lets cry about Obamas Birth Certificate who 100% provided the short form which dolts claimed was fake then claimed his long form was fake

    August 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  14. D R Schell

    Commander-in- tax evasion

    August 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  15. Lenny Pincus

    It is also quite entertaining that the patriots have hones the concept of "Conspiracy theory" into an art form refuse to vet their own candidate.

    August 5, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. nmmell08

    I think Reid went out of bounds with this, but at least he is sticking to his Guns. Romney, proove him wrong. The more you backpeddle and resist, the worse is going to get. The last polls for Romney were ugly for him, and that should be impossible with this mediocre economhy

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  17. Annie

    If Big Love were honest he would not hesitate to prove it! He's just trying to get away with deception. If you are not lying then you have nothing to hide.He's still going to be more loyal to his cult than to the American public. Some things never change and Mormons always put themselves above all else, including Country. This piece of sh&t needs to be beaten badly come November!

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Why are GOP/Tea Party conservatives so upset about the report that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years? Sounds more plausible than the stories circulated by the GOP/Tea Party about John Kerry's Swift Boat war record and Obama's birth place and religion.

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. Math Prof

    (repost from another site) Let me be the first to assert that Mitt Romney will NOT be the Republican candidate for President of the U.S. this fall. He is too proud to release his tax returns, and will be unceremoniously dumped at the convention.

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. Len Smith

    Where is the beef? I haven't seen the tax returns and the Majority Leader just told what he was told, but did say that he didn't know if taxes were paiid or not. Show me the beef!!!!!!

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  21. bill davis

    We know Timothy Geithner did not pay his, but that's another game, also has Harry put his tax returns on the line for all to see.

    We all know the IRS has checked this out, be a real embarrassment for them if they did not...

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Two Of AKind -

    Since when do YOU dictate how many years of tax returns are obligatory?
    Romney is willing to give 2 years----officially he doesn't HAVE to give any.

    John McCain gave TWO years tax returns and that was acceptable in 2008 – so Democrats are OPENLY DISCRIMINATING against Romney? Obama is shameful allowing this.

    Oh! and Obama is racially discriminating against Romney.
    Obama – BLACK – refused for months to present his "birth cert." refused to disclose paperwork on Fast and Furious the White House leaks AND the Bin Laden details [but was happy to give them to Hollywood to make an Obama Propaganda film!]
    He's demanding that Romney – WHITE – discloses anything that Obama – BLACK – wants to see?

    Yes that's deliberate and malicious RACIAL DISCRIMINATION.

    August 5, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. twinmmom

    If Harry Reid, or any of our elected leaders, wants to make political statements, it needs to be done on his own time and his own dime.
    When he stands on the Senate floor, we, the taxpayers, are paying him to do his job and address the issues that this country is facing, eg, healthcare, education, unemployment, economy, immigration, etc, etc. We aren't paying him to campaign for Obama, and he is WRONG to use the Senate floor as a political pulpit to spew his venom. It's not like they have all the issues solved and he can afford the time to fritter the day away.
    So get back to work, Harry, or your employers will find someone else to do your job!

    August 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. Alois

    Deadbeat obama his corrupt administration are public enemy no.1 and they need to be removed because they are not fit to represent the people of our nation.They are all a bunch of incompetent losers like reid,pelosi,holder,and obama,that are in it for their own personal interests.Crackhead obama has an agenda and getting our country turned around is not part of that idiotic, corrupt,socialist, agenda .Four more years of deadbeat obama and his super corrupt administration just means more of the same stupid obama incompetence.

    August 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. rs

    Even if Mr. Reid has no evidence to support his allegations against Mr. Romney, he is otherwise using PRECISELY that same tactic Mr. Romney used against his opponents in earlier election (like against Mr. E. Kennedy, and in a Mass. Senatorial race), AND he didn't reveal his tax returns then either.

    So there it is- I exect you to reveal your tax forms, but I'll never show you mine- THAT's Mr. Romney. It's good to see Mr. Reid subject Romney to his own medicine.

    August 5, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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