The reporter who obtained the first two pages of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns pointed to Trump’s “long history” of leaking information about himself and speculated that the president may be the source of the leak.
“Donald has a long history of leaking things about himself, and doing it directly, indirectly,” said David Cay Johnston “So it’s a possibility.”
The investigative reporter and author of The Making of Donald Trump did say he didn’t think it was overly likely.
“The venom and the anger and the falsehoods in the White House statement suggests that, no, he’s probably not the source,” Johnston told ABC News’ Good Morning America today. “That tells me that this is somebody who either worked at the accounting firm or had connections to it or this copy was turned over to someone in a regulatory proceeding, in litigation, in a financial statement. And why not the whole return?”
The return, Johnston said, was delivered anonymously to his mailbox with no return address on the envelope. Johnston appeared on MSNBC Tuesday night to report on the document, which is stamped with the words “client copy” on the second page.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow teased a big reveal an hour prior to the show, but the White House beat her to the punch, slamming the network for trying to make a big show of something over a decade old and “illegally published.”
The White House said Tuesday night that the president paid $38 million in federal taxes on income of more than $150 million in 2005.
While MSNBC released the 2005 returns, the Daily Beast published a seeming attempt to stir the pot, leading with the fact that Trump only paid $5.3 million in “regular income taxes” before revealing in the next paragraph that he paid an additional $31 million in the “alternative minimum tax.”
Pundits seemed to agree that Maddow’s “reveal” turned out to be a dud, and sister organization CNBC opined that Maddow had given Trump a “nice victory.”
Critics accused Maddow and other mainstream journalists of unprofessional behavior, pointing to numerous instances where journalists claimed that Trump “avoided taxes for nearly two decades” or even paid “nothing in federal taxes.”
Meanwhile, the two-page document revealed what Trump has paid in federal taxes for 7 years, starting with 1975. In three of those years, he lost money and paid no taxes, but in the other four, he paid no less than 25 percent in taxes.
Critics have also pointed out that, for the better part of four decades, the IRS appears to have been perfectly satisfied with the way in which Trump handled his finances.
The White House responded to Maddow and other critics who implied tax-related wrongdoing on the president’s behalf, calling MSNBC “desperate for ratings” in this statement:
“Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement read. “That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that.”
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