CNN: During a CNN town hall, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) addresses concerns that his financial status as a millionaire undermines his credibility as someone who rails against the wealthy in America.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Senator Sanders, you recently released 10 years of your tax returns.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT): I did.
CUOMO: Let's talk about that topic. We'll start with Ellen Burstein. She's a freshman at Harvard and grew up in Massachusetts. What's your question for the senator?
QUESTION: Senator Sanders, thank you for being here. Your tax returns recently revealed that you are, in fact, a millionaire. How would you respond to concerns that your financial status undermines your authority as someone who has railed against millionaires and billionaires?
SANDERS: OK. Well, that's a good question. And here it is, all right? You ready to have me plead guilty. I plead guilty to have written a book which was an international best-seller, OK? And when you write a book that makes it to the top of the New York Times best-seller list, you make money. And I made money. I suspect that in a couple of years my salary will go back to $173,000, which is what a member of Congress gets.
But I think your question should ask, well, now that you wrote a book, you made money, is that going to mean that you change your policies? Well, you're looking at somebody who not only voted against Trump's disastrous tax plan -- 83 percent of the benefits going to the top 1 percent -- but I have and will continue in this campaign to fight for progressive taxation.
In other words, whether it is Bernie Sanders or your family or anybody else in America, when we have so much income and wealth inequality, when the people on top are doing phenomenally well, yeah, if you are doing very, very well in our economy, you should be paying your fair share of taxes.
We will raise those taxes for the upper income people. We will do away with the tax loopholes and the tax breaks that large private corporations currently receive. Do you happen to know -- anybody here happen to know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year? Zero. All right? Owned by the wealthiest guy in America. That is an absurd tax system, a regressive tax system. And if elected president, I will change that tax system.
CUOMO: All right, two quick follow ups. One, you said you expect your salary to go back down to...
SANDERS: Unless I write another best-seller. I don't know.
CUOMO: Or, who makes more than that? What does the president of the United States make?
SANDERS: You're right. What does he make? I don't even...
CUOMO: $400,000. So are you saying that you're not going to win?
SANDERS: No, I'm not saying that.
CUOMO: All right. I just want to be clear.
SANDERS: All that I'm saying -- you know, all that I'm saying is I don't think anyone seriously believes that because I wrote a best-selling book, it made money...
CUOMO: It changed you?
SANDERS: ... that I've change my views, and you'll now hear me saying, gee, maybe we want to give tax breaks to millionaires. I don't think you've heard me say that.