Posted on | August 2, 2012 | 64 Comments
The top Senate Democrat evidently believes he can make outrageous accusations based on anonymous secondhand “sources” and then require the accused to disprove his accusations:
Earlier this week, Harry Reid revealed why Mitt Romney is refusing to release more tax returns: He didn’t pay taxes for an entire decade! It almost sounds too crazy to be true, and in fact, Reid is “not certain” that it isn’t a total lie. However, he is sure of one thing: “I am not basing this on some figment of my imagination,” Reid told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I have had a number of people tell me that.” So we aren’t talking about just one anonymous Bain investor, but several people who have seemingly only shared this story with Reid.
In an interview with Nevada reporters on Wednesday, Reid refused to name his sources or back down on his accusation. “I don’t think the burden should be on me,” he said. “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes. Why didn’t he release his tax returns?”
This is preposterous and I feel compelled to offer an apology for using the term “McCarthyism” to describe Reid’s tactics, given that Sen. Joe McCarthy was an American patriot who never wrongly accused anyone of being Communist. (See M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.) The comparison, however, is quite instructive: One of the reasons McCarthy’s critics were able to destroy him was because McCarthy’s investigations — like the investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, with which they are often confused in popular legend — were often based on sources whose secrecy was a matter of national security.
McCarthy had access to information derived from FBI investigations, from CIA espionage and from the “Venona” decryptions of Soviet messages. He could not reveal the sources of this information (indeed, he was in most cases unaware of how the FBI and CIA got their information) without compromising the intelligence-gathering ability of these agencies. So when his critics accused McCarthy of making unsubstatiated accusations, McCarthy’s inability to say, “Here is the FBI report that supports the charge” made him look irresponsible.
What ultimately destroyed McCarthy was when he turned against the Eisenhower administration, and vice-versa. McCarthy knew that administration officials were aware of the factual basis of his investigations, and so when the White House showed, at best, lukewarm support for McCarthy, he began to suspect that they were “in on it,” complicit in a cover-up of Soviet subversion. The downfall of McCarthy was brought about by his fellow Republicans, and this produced a lingering suspicion that gave rise to the conspiracy theories promulgated by the John Birch Society (an organization that, whatever its errors, has been as unfairly maligned as McCarthy himself).
Compare this to Harry Reid’s claim that he has been told, by persons whom he will not name, that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years. Romney has committed no crime. If Romney has illegally evaded taxes all this time, why hasn’t Romney been prosecuted?
Is Harry Reid claiming that Eric Holder’s Justice Department failed to do its duty? Or does Reid believe there was some gigantic loophole in the tax code that permitted Romney — who by all accounts made a lot of money during those years — to avoid paying taxes legally?
I think it is neither of these. I think Harry Reid knows doggone well that Romney paid taxes, and if anyone has actually told him otherwise — if Reid is not lying about having “a number of people” tell him that Romney didn’t pay taxes — he knows better than to believe them.
How could they possibly know what’s in Romney’s IRS file?
That’s the real question, you see. John Heilemann of New York magazine suspects that the real reason Democrats are demanding to see all of Romney’s tax returns is because it would show that he has contributed millions to the Mormon church over the years. And I believe the Obama administration, in Nixonian fashion, has actually provided Romney’s IRS information to the president’s re-election campaign.
Therefore, let us look at how Harry Reid originally made this accusation in his interview with Sam Stein and Ryan Grim:
A month or so ago, he said, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office. “Harry, he didn’t pay any taxes for 10 years,” Reid recounted the person as saying. “He didn’t pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain,” said Reid.
Hmmm. The obvious question, as Phil Klein of the Washington Examiner immediately pointed out, was how someone who was merely an investor in Bain Capital would know what was in Romney’s personal tax returns. The provenance is suspicious and, while I don’t think Harry Reid is as smart as Phil Klein, surely Harry isn’t so stupid as to believe that hhis mysterious source had access to such information.
When challenged on this claim, Reid doubled down, asserting that he’s talked to lots of people who say Romney paid zero taxes for ten years, and implied that reporters have been negligent:
Asked to elaborate on his sources, Reid declined. “No, that’s the best you’re going to get from me.” . . .
Reid challenged the media to be more aggressive in digging into Romney’s finances.
“What if he has paid no taxes, like I am saying he hasn’t,” Reid said. “What if he has all these moneys as we already know … in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Swiss banks. I mean, gee whiz, rather than ask me why I should do this, that is a story you should be writing.”
Hmmm. Harry wants to dictate to journalists what is a story (i.e., Romney’s finances) and what is not a story (i.e., the basis for Harry’s claims).
What if reporters refuse to play along? What if, instead, reporters bulldog Harry Reid and demand that he explain his accusations?
Now that Harry has claimed that he had multiple sources for his accusations, shouldn’t he provide some specific descriptions of his contacts with these informants? Shouldn’t reporters ask why Harry Reid was so confident that his sources were knowledgeable of Romney’s taxes?
Because frankly, I don’t believe this crap. I do not believe that Harry Reid’s interest in Mitt Romney’s tax forms is based on any phone calls or casual conversations with Bain investors or anyone else outside the world of Democrat Party politics. Harry’s tale is implausible.
What I believe is this: Whatever Harry Reid knows about Mitt Romney’s taxes, he obtained from Democrat Party sources who, in turn, got it via the leaking of this confidential information from IRS officials to individuals affiliated with the Obama campaign.
Reid is lying — mischaracterizing his sources — to conceal the fact that the Obama campaign has illegally obtained Romney’s IRS forms.
But don’t expect me to prove that accusation. I don’t think the burden should be on me. The burden should be on Harry Reid. He’s the one I’ve alleged is part of a Nixonian conspiracy at the White House. Why didn’t Harry identify his sources?
Also, somebody called me last month and said, “Harry Reid is a communist!” Now, do I know that that’s true? Well, I’m not certain. But I mean, gee whiz, that is a story you should be writing.
- Aug. 1: … And the Pulitzer Prize for Recycling Second-Hand Rumors From HuffPo …
- July 24: Axelrod’s Nixonian Manipulations: Tax Flap Is About Mitt’s Mormon Millions