DES MOINES — Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday he’s concerned how the New York Times obtained access to President Donald Trump’s tax information, citing a law meant to keep tax information confidential.
“That information should have never gotten out, and whoever got it out violated the law,” Grassley, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said on a conference call with Iowa reporters.
The New York Times in a report published Sunday night said its reporters had obtained and analyzed tax return data for Trump and his businesses over more than two decades. The Times is in the process of releasing additional reporting, which so far have shown Trump sustained large financial losses over his career and has had small federal tax bills.
The Times reported that all of the information it obtained “was provided by sources with legal access to it.”
Trump has long refused to release his tax returns, saying it’s because he’s under audit. He has dismissed the Times’ articles as “fake news” but hasn’t agreed to release his returns to refute the reporting.
Grassley on Wednesday pointed to section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code — which governs the confidentiality and disclosure of tax returns and return information by the Internal Revenue Service — saying he would be concerned about how the information became sent to the Times.
Asked about the substance of the Times’ reporting, Grassley said he doesn’t have enough evidence. The senator pointed to Trump’s statements that he has paid “millions of dollars” in income taxes, rather than the $750 per year in 2016 and 2017 reported by the Times.
“All I’ve got is the president saying he’s paid millions of dollars in taxes, and you’ve got the New York Times printing what they think, and we don’t have the facts to make a judgment,” Grassley said. “But let me say that I’d be very concerned about how it got out.”
Grassley said earlier in the week that he’s also concerned about why it has taken the Internal Revenue Service so long to complete its audit of Trump’s taxes. He said Wednesday he’s confident the IRS “will eventually get its job done.”
“If you owe taxes, you’re going to pay those taxes,” he said. “Because there’s nothing more certain — as you’ve heard many times — in this world than death and taxes.”
The Times has not released the tax documents themselves. Executive editor Dean Baquet said in an editor’s note that the Times is not publishing the documents because it does not want to jeopardize its sources.
Baquet also wrote that the Supreme Court “has repeatedly ruled that the First Amendment allows the press to publish newsworthy information that was legally obtained by reporters even when those in power fight to keep it hidden.”
Ian Richardson covers the Iowa Statehouse for the Des Moines Register. Reach him at email@example.com, at 515-284-8254, or on Twitter at @DMRIanR.
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