Maxine Waters: Will Ask Mnuchin Under Oath If Trump Instructed Him Not To Release Tax Returns


House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Rep. Maxine Waters joined CNN's "New Day" on Friday to discuss her push to impeach the president and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's testimony scheduled for Wednesday. She said she would ask Mnuchin under oath about his claim that President Trump did not instruct him to not release Trump's tax returns to Congress.

"The elephant in the room is going to be about his refusal to turn over the tax returns that are being requested of him. And he has said that he did not have any conversation with the president or with anybody in the administration," Waters said. "He made this decision on his own. Well, I question that."

JOHN BERMAN, CNN: Today is the latest deadline for the Treasury Department and the IRS to hand over the president's tax returns to Congress, but Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has hinted that they will not comply. Now the Treasury Secretary is set to testify before that House Financial Committee next Wednesday. Joining us now is the chair of that committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Thank you so much for joining us. Madam Chairwoman, let me ask you. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly said she does not think that impeachment is the right move right now, had a different take on it yesterday where she did seem to acknowledge that impeachment would provide the House with certain powers. Listen to what she said.

NANCY PELOSI: We have to exhaust every other remedy on the way and, again, use the tools at our disposal, even if that means saying one possible use of this investigation might be impeachment, even though I don't want to go to that place, but if that's what protects us in court.

BERMAN: Do you feel as if the Speaker is moving closer to your opinion, which is more or less impeachment now?

REP. MAXINE WATERS: I've always believed that if the information about this president and his involvement with Russia and Putin and the oligarchs and the Kremlin, and if we but look at Mueller's report and see where he clearly defines that he's obstructed justice, that people will increasingly come to the conclusion that impeachment is inevitable.

This president has done everything that one could even think of to be eligible for impeachment and the Constitution basically gives us the power to deal with someone who has not acted in the best interest of this country, who is unfit to be president, and so I don't know if Nancy Pelosi is moving closer, but I suspect the information is becoming overwhelming and it's very interesting what Michael Flynn is saying about the contacts that were made with him, trying to influence him, trying to basically frighten him if he, in fact, you know, gave information in the investigation. I'm hopeful that the American public will support impeachment.

BERMAN: Well, the American public doesn't, we know that based on the polling, and we also know that up until now the House Speaker hasn't supported impeachment.

WATERS: That's right.

BERMAN: Have you been frustrated with House leadership on their response to your calls for impeachment?

WATERS: Well, no, I'm never frustrated because someone does not think as I think or don't believe as I believe. I just think it is my responsibility to be true to my beliefs and to honor my own thoughts and to be able after I have done my analysis and my own investigation to be able to speak truth to power, and I do that no matter what anyone else does.

BERMAN: All right. Ago you had the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin before your committee.


BERMAN: And it got heated. Let me play a little bit for our audience here.

WATERS: All right. Okay.

TREASURY SECRETARY STEVE MNUCHIN: I've sat here for over 3 hours and 15 minutes. If you would wish to keep me here so that I don't have my important meeting and continue to grill me, then we can do that. I will cancel my meeting and I will not be back here. I will be very clear. If that's the way you would like to have this relationship.

MAXINE WATERS: You are free to line anytime you want. You may go.

MNUCHIN: Please dismiss everybody. I believe you're supposed to take the gravel and bang it.

WATERS: Please do not instruct me as to how I'm to conduct this committee.

BERMAN All right. So that was then, he said he wasn't going to come back if you kept him there. He is coming back. Have you had discussions with him since then?

WATERS: No, we have not talked since then. He is coming back. We have about 18 members on our committee that did not get an opportunity to ask the questions and so we expect him to be back and we expect our members to have the opportunity to ask the questions. But you know the elephant in the room is going to be about his refusal to turn over the tax returns that is being requested of him, and he has said that he did not have any conversation with the president or with anybody in the administration. He made this decision on his own. Well, I question that.

BERMAN: Will you ask him that under oath?

WATERS: I may ask him or I may allow someone to ask him, but it's going to be asked.

BERMAN: Do you feel as if he should be held in contempt? It would be by the Ways and Means Committee, not by your committee if he does not comply?

WATERS: Well, the law basically says that he should turn them over. That he should when it is requested, I guess, in the right way and it is being requested, I want you to know that the chair of Ways and Means has been very careful about the way that he's approached this, and I think the law says "Shall" referring to what he must do.

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