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Watch: Collins says public officials shouldn't have to release tax returns

WASHINGTON – Rep. Chris Collins took to CNN Friday morning to argue that President Trump should not have to release his tax returns – and ended up saying that no elected official should have to do so.

"I've always said he shouldn’t report his taxes," Collins, R-Clarence, told CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "I don't think any elected official should."

Collins, a third-term member of Congress who has never released his own tax returns, did not elaborate on why politicians should not be required to do so.

He stressed, though, that Trump filed a personal financial disclosure form – a legally required document in which federal politicians report their outside income, investments and liabilities in broad ranges. In contrast, tax returns require specific income information.

"He filled out a personal financial disclosure form that shows more details than a tax return will ever show," Collins said. "Somehow that never comes up."

Hearing that, Cuomo retorted: "Because it's not really true."

Collins noted, though, that a tax return would not necessarily show a person's debts.

"These folks who say they want to see who he owes money to and this and that – that’s not even on his tax return," Collins said. "I've yet to find anything that anyone would say is on a tax return that isn’t on his personal financial disclosure form, which in fact is more intrusive than a tax return."

Also during the interview, Collins downplayed a controversy that erupted Thursday when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, on Fox News, encouraged viewers to "go buy Ivanka's stuff."

In other words, Conway asked Americans to go buy products sponsored by the president's daughter – even though federal ethics rules bar federal employees from endorsing products.

In doing so, Conway drew a bipartisan rebuke from the Republican chairman and the Democratic ranking member of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. They wrote to the chairman of the Office of Government Ethics, saying Conway's comments “raised extremely serious concerns.”

A White House official told reporters that Conway was "counseled" after her Fox appearance.

But Conway's interview didn't concern Collins.

"She was smiling. She was laughing. She was speaking about herself," Collins said about Conway's interview. "Somebody is making a mountain out of a mole hill here. I'd say get a life."

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