By Nick Gass
August 1, 2016
Warren Buffett on Monday directly challenged Donald Trump to release his tax returns during a campaign stop with Hillary Clinton in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
“He said 'none of your business,' which did not go over so well, and then he started giving various explanations. And one of the explanations was that he had given his financial statement to the election commission and listed his assets and liabilities,” the Berkshire Hathaway chairman recounted at a local high school as Clinton sat on stage next to him.
Trump has claimed that the returns in any case would hold little news value.
“But believe me," Buffett countered, "as someone who’s filled out financial statements and someone who has filled out an income tax return, I call tell you, they are two very different animals. You will learn a whole lot more about Donald Trump if he produces his income tax return.”
Buffett then remarked that he would “like to make [Trump] an offer, an offer I hope he can’t refuse.”
Noting that Trump often cites the fact that his taxes are under audit, Buffett mused, “I've got news for him, I'm under audit too. I would be delighted to meet him any time, any place before the election.”
“I'll bring my tax return. He can bring his tax return. Nobody is going to arrest us. There are no rules against showing your tax returns and just let[ting] people ask questions about the items that are on there,” Buffett said, before asking the boisterous crowd, “How many of you would be afraid to have your tax return made public?”
“You're only afraid if you got something to be afraid about. He's not afraid of the IRS. He's afraid because of you. I will meet him in Omaha or Mar-a-Lago or he can pick the place,” Buffett offered. “We're both under audit. And believe me, nobody will stop us from talking about what's on those returns. Send the word to him, if you will.”
Buffett also took issue with Trump saying the U.S. is no longer great, ripping into the Republican nominee for his attacks on the family of a fallen Army captain after his father, Khizr Khan, gave a speech at the Democratic convention denouncing anti-Muslim rhetoric and accusing Trump of never making sacrifices for his country.
Referring specifically to Trump’s claim to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he, too, has made sacrifices, Buffett invoked the McCarthy hearings.
“No member of the Buffett family has gone to Iraq or Afghanistan. No member of the Trump family has gone to Iraq or Afghanistan,” Buffett said. “We have both done extremely well during this period and our families haven't sacrificed anything, and Donald Trump and I haven't sacrificed anything, but how in the world can you stand up to a couple of parents who have lost a son and talk about sacrificing because you were building a bunch of buildings?”
“When I heard that, my mind went back -- and this goes back before most of you were born -- but they went back to the McCarthy hearings. And at the time of the McCarthy hearings, at the time of the McCarthy hearings with the Army, Joe Welch had a young assistant of his maligned by Sen. [Joseph] McCarthy, and McCarthy went on and on, implying this guy was a communist and doing all kinds of things. And finally, Joe Welch couldn't take it anymore and he said and I'll quote him, 'Have you no sense of decency, sir?' I ask Donald Trump: 'Have you no sense of decency, sir?'” Buffett said to cheers and applause. “I might add, just add one thing: McCarthy’s career went straight downhill after that. It did.”
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