MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has obtained an exclusive copy of President Donald Trump’s tax returns from investigative reporter David Cay Johnston. The White House issued a response shortly before Maddow went on air.
Reuters released the White House’s preemptive response minutes prior to Maddow’s broadcast, criticizing the show of being “desperate for ratings.”
“You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago,” the statement read.
The statement says that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on an income of more than $150 million, “as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes.”
“This illegally published return provides just that,” the statement added.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump raised eyebrows and drew outrage from many when he refused to release his tax returns. He even vowed to show them once the IRS was done with its audit, but after winning the presidency, the administration made it clear there was no intention of releasing them.
Maddow’s Tuesday evening report referenced a report from the Palm Beach Post, alleging ties between Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev and Trump.
Maddow also mentioned the firing of former US Attorney Preet Bharara, who refused to resign when instructed to do so last week. Bharara, who worked in the Manhattan district, was reportedly looking into Deutsche Bank over alleged Russian money laundering.
People are interested in Trump’s tax returns, Maddow said, because they are asking, “What is his relationship with foreign sources of income?”
The MSNBC program built up the exclusive story’s context for about 20 minutes before going to commercial break. Upon returning, Maddow held up two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax form 1040, which she says first showed up in the mailbox of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston.
Maddow refuted the White House’s claim that publishing the document was illegal. The First Amendment protects the right to show it to the public, Maddow stated. She did not challenge the White House’s figures detailed in the tax document.
Johnston does not claim to know the source of the material.
“It’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me,” Johnston said, claiming Trump’s “long record” of leaking documents as reason to consider the possibility.
Johnston also said that Trump’s return shows that he was still benefiting from the $916 million loss he reported in his 1995 return, which was published in the New York Times during the election.
Maddow then reiterated that the issue of Trump’s tax return was important, because there were still questions of his sources of income and the integrity of his statements about his wealth.
What we’ve got is from 2005… the President’s 1040 form… details to come tonight 9PM ET, MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 15, 2017
According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump was able to deduct $39.1 million from his 2005 federal income taxes by promising not to build houses at a golf club he owns in Somerset New Jersey.
The release of Trump’s 2005 tax document comes one day after Breitbart News published a private recording of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) addressing House Republicans on October 10, 2016. Ryan stated he would no longer support Trump on the campaign trail, shortly after the drop of a secret 2005 tape of Trump boasting of sexual escapades with women in a lewd conversation with former Access Hollywood TV host Billy Bush.
Maddow’s one-hour special report did not impress many people on Twitter who took it as mostly hype, especially as the Trump administration effectively beat her to the punch, releasing the tax information before her broadcast.
The media when Maddow tweeted that she was going to release Trump’s tax returns tonight only to clarify it’s just his 1040 from 2005. pic.twitter.com/qLdSGa5LWz
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 15, 2017
Rachel Maddow. has an investigative reporter who angrily announces Trump makes more in a day than he and his wife make in a year!!!
— Norm Macdonald (@normmacdonald) March 15, 2017
So I guess Rachel Maddow just demonstrated to us how #fakenews is made?
— Stacy Herbert (@stacyherbert) March 15, 2017