In an interview in the White House this week, White House Press Secretary Sean “Spicy” Spicer sat down with Fox News to discuss the release of President Trump’s 2005 1040 Form, which showed that he paid $38 Million in taxes.
After pleasantries, Spicer got right to it:
SPICER: I think it showed a couple things. One, it’s illegal to publish someone’s tax returns, and the degree…”
KURTZ: It’s illegal to leak someone’s returns.
SPICER: There’s an act that prohibits that on another citizen, and I think that the idea that they would hype the idea that they obtained an illegal document and then hyped it to basically show A, that the President paid 38 million dollars and an effective rate of 25% tax, that he’s a very wealthy man, that he does pay taxes seemed a bit ironic for Rachel Maddow but the other thing is and what I think is more disappointing is for NBC to continue from that point forward to then start perpetuating a false narrative about the President probably did leak his own narrative, that was unbelievably dishonest and shows the length that NBC will go to get ratings.”
And like everything Sean Spicer does, he manages to be right and wrong at the same time. Yes, it is illegal to release tax returns.
The law on the matter is pretty simple; 26 U.S. Code § 7213 says:
(a)Returns and return information
(1)Federal employees and other persons
It shall be unlawful for any officer or employee of the United States or any person described in section 6103(n) (or an officer or employee of any such person), or any former officer or employee, willfully to disclose to any person, except as authorized in this title, any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)). Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable upon conviction by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution, and if such offense is committed by any officer or employee of the United States, he shall, in addition to any other punishment, be dismissed from office or discharged from employment upon conviction for such offense.
That rules out a release from IRS employees who released them. Someone releases them from the IRS and they are going to jail, but that doesn’t let Maddow off the hook (see Section 3 below).
(2)State and other employees
It shall be unlawful for any person (not described in paragraph (1)) willfully to disclose to any person, except as authorized in this title, any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) acquired by him or another person under subsection (d), (i)(1)(C), (3)(B)(i), or (7)(A)(ii), (k)(10), (l)(6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (12), (15), (16), (19), (20), or (21) or (m)(2), (4), (5), (6), or (7) of section 6103 or under section 6104(c). Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.
Even if a State official from New York released his federal tax returns as attached to his state return, they too would be jail-bound. Again, this second doesn’t mean Maddow is off the hook (See below).
It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.
And there it is! Maddow could be jail bound should she release real returns. Not only that but she could be fined a tiny amount of $5000 for her release of these returns.
It shall be unlawful for any person willfully to offer any item of material value in exchange for any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) and to receive as a result of such solicitation any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.
You mean there’s more? Maddow or someone at MSNBC who may be found to have solicited for the release and had those returns given to them as a result of their solicitation is ALSO another crime.
But while Spicer may have been accurate that it was illegal, it was also completely unproven that Trump’s administration didn’t release these returns to troll Maddow and NBC. Considering that the tax returns released had “Client Copy” on them suggest that they were released by Trump or someone in his camp.
Lastly, he is 100% correct about NBC and ratings, but what does Spicer expect? NBC is a for-profit business with stockholders and investors they have to make happy. Of course they are going to sensationalize any story regarding Trump and his tax returns. But does Trump really want this story to go away? If he did, he would just RELEASE HIS TAX RETURNS. Like Trump however, there is a play here. There are several possibilities that exist. He has something to hide and will never release them because they show he’s a tax cheat, or (and what I believe is much mor likely) is that he releases them at another time that plays well for his reelect.
Either way, this hand-wringing over his 2005 Returns seems to be a whole lot of nothing.
The post Sean Spicer Destroys NBC and says Rachel Maddow Broke the Law: Thing is, He Isn’t Wrong. appeared first on RedState.
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