Fox's Andrew Napolitano fearmongers about House Democrats seeking Trump's tax returns: "They did this to Donald Trump, they can do this to any of us"
Video ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF
From the April 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): House Democrats, they're demanding that the IRS provide six years of President Trump's personal and business tax returns.
BRIAN KILMEADE (CO-HOST): Well GOP lawmakers are now accusing Democrats of weaponizing U.S. tax codes in another attempt to take down the president.
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): The latest attempt to take down the president. Here to weigh in, Fox News senior judicial analyst and the host of The Liberty File on Fox Nation, Judge Andrew Napolitano. What's going on here?
ANDREW NAPOLITANO (FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST): Well you know, when this first came up I honestly didn't know this statute existed because it's an obscure statute. But it says -- law of the land, a federal statute that says the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and/or -- meaning they don't have to act together -- the chair of the Senate Finance Committee can ask for anybody's tax returns. And the secretary, meaning the secretary of the Treasury for whom the IRS works, shall furnish them. They don't have to give a reason. The chair can get them, any amount of them, the president's right. He was being a little sarcastic, why do they only go back six years, there's no limitation, and they don't have to give a reason for it. But they do have to keep it secret and confidential --
DOOCY: Yeah, right.
NAPOLITANO: And that's the rub. They probably don't want to keep it secret and confidential and they have a way not to do it. Do you remember when Senator Feinstein got her hands on that 6,000 page report on torture, President Obama said don't release it, even John Brennan said don't release it. She went to the floor on the Senate and released it with immunity. So if these tax returns go to the House Ways and Means Committee and any member of Congress gets them, that member of Congress can go to the floor of the House of Representatives and the tax returns of the president of the United States become public. And they can do this to you, to Ainsley, to Steve, they can do it to me. They can do it to anybody.
KILMEADE: So I understand it's a major test for Steve Mnuchin, he has to make the legal argument on why not, why they should not be released. Can he?
NAPOLITANO: Well I don't know what that argument would be. I mean, I understand the president's argument that he is under audit. And an audit is private. So if he's under audit he knows it, and the people doing the audit know it. The public doesn't know it. That would not be a defense. I'm sure this is going to end up in the court because Mnuchin is not going to release it voluntarily, even though the statute says he must.
EARHARDT: Why would they do this? They're not happy with the Mueller report, and now they want to find something that maybe he has done illegal on his taxes?
NAPOLITANO: I think the behavior of the Democrats in the House is kind of apparent. One argument is, you know, he made all these claims about his wealth and his business success and that's the reason for electing him president, and let's challenge them.
KILMEADE: That's not a reason though.
NAPOLITANO: It's a political reason. The other argument is, he is a human being. He has the -- taxpayer. He has the same privacy rights as the rest of us. Again, as I said, they did this to Donald Trump, they can do it to any of us.
DOOCY: The Democrats want to show how little tax he paid using the rules of the law.
DOOCY: I have got a question for you, when did -- you never heard of this law before yesterday.
NAPOLITANO: Honestly I looked it up when this came up.
DOOCY: Why'd they brew it up? Where did this come from?
NAPOLITANO: The law has been around for about 60 years. It was not written to target Donald Trump. It was written to let Congress to get away with whatever it wants to get away with.
EARHARDT: Have they ever used that law to see other presidents' tax returns?
KILMEADE: Now, it didn't stop there. The House Oversight Committee led by Congressman Cummings issued a subpoena before sending along to get 10 years of President Trump's financial records. The company that has these financial records says just give me the subpoena and I will give them up. But I need to see the subpoena.
NAPOLITANO: So, this is new to me, Brian. These are financial records in the hands of what, his accountants?
KILMEADE: Yep. They said --
NAPOLITANO: Well those are confidential. Those are protected.
KILMEADE: Well, it looks like the accounting firm says if you give me the subpoena, a so-called friendly subpoena, they could formalize the process of complying with the panel's results.
NAPOLITANO: So if the accounting firm follows the law they'll call up their client, the President of the United States, and say what do you want us to do with the subpoena. And then the client, the president, will hire lawyers to quash the subpoena.
KILMEADE: So you've taken it two or three steps. Cummings thinks he's getting them.
NAPOLITANO: I would be shocked because that accounting firm would violate their own rules of ethics. It would be like Jerry Nadler getting the president's private legal records. Well, we know that they did that when the FBI raided Michael Cohen's office. So, listen, here is the bottom line --
KILMEADE: It's presidential harassment. It really is.
NAPOLITANO: If they can do this to the president, they can do this to anybody. Are anybody's rights safe anymore?