Cutter: Romney not ‘upfront’ on Bain role, downplays ‘crime’ talk

President Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Tuesday she was not suggesting Mitt Romney “committed a crime” when he filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding his role with Bain Capital, but said the issue highlighted his lack of transparency with voters.

"If you look at the discussion we were having, last week it was revealed that Mitt Romney signed his name on SEC documents saying he was chairman, CEO, president and full owner of Bain Capital. But he's also telling the American people that he's not responsible for anything that happened there. So we're simply pointing out that both things can't be true," Cutter said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

But Cutter said the campaign didn't believe Romney had committed a felony when he affirmed his role as president of Bain after 1999 — just that he was being deceptive about his ties to the private equity giant.

"If you were signing documents to the federal government, as we all know, that you knowingly know aren't true, that is a criminal offense," Cutter said. "But we are not suggesting that Romney committed a crime here — we're actually suggesting he's not being upfront with the American people about his involvement in Bain."

Cutter, though, declined twice to walk back her comments last week that Romney might have committed a felony, saying that it was fair to raise questions about his role at Bain.

The Romney campaign has maintained that while Romney remained at the company in title, he was not involved in its day-to-day operations after 1999. Democrats have sought to tie Romney to business decisions at the firm after 1999, which helped American companies shift jobs overseas.

Last week, Romney demanded an apology from the president for Cutter's suggestion he could have committed a felony, by filing inaccurate documents with the SEC. "It's ridiculous," Romney told Fox News. "And of course it's beneath the dignity of the presidency and of his campaign."

But Cutter defended her criticism, noting signs Romney might have had some involvement in the running of the company.

"It doesn't take three years to change the letterhead," Cutter said.

The Obama deputy also suggested that Romney should turn over additional years of tax returns, although she declined to say how far back the Republican hopeful should go.

"I don't have a number on Mitt Romney's tax returns, a number of years," Cutter said. "I'd like to see multiple copies of them, multiple years of them that tells the story of what he did as a businessman and how he invested his money. We have only a very small snapshot."