Two pages of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return were revealed on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Tuesday night.
The pages were sent to journalist David Cay Johnston, who then gave them to Maddow. Johnston appeared on Maddow’s show to discuss the information shown by the documents.
The president refused to release his tax returns throughout the campaign, saying that he couldn’t because they are “under audit.”
The two pages, though, don’t appear to show much information.
The documents show that Trump paid taxes in 2005, but give little details about his business. Some have questioned if this is simply a distraction from policy discussions, such as the Republican health care bill.
What the documents show:
- Trump paid $38 million in taxes on more than $150 million in income in 2005.
- That amount translates to a tax rate of about 25%.
- Trump reported $103 million in losses to reduce his federal taxes.
- Trump paid most of his taxes under the alternative minimum tax, which is designed to prevent wealthy individuals from paying no taxes at all.
What the documents don’t show:
- Whether or not Trump paid taxes in other years and how much he paid in other years.
- Why he had $103 million in losses.
- Whether or not he has financial ties to Russia or others.
- Any new information about his business or where his income came from.
How did journalist David Cay Johnston get the documents?
Johnston said he got the documents in the mail and didn’t know who sent them to him. One of the documents says “client copy,” which suggests they were not leaked by the IRS.
Johnston, who has written a book about Trump, said the president himself could have been the leaker of the documents.
"Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it's in his interest," he said on "The Rachel Maddow Show."
What is the White House response?
The White House issued a response to the reveal before “The Rachel Maddow Show” aired Tuesday night. Here’s the full statement:
“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.
"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. 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.
"Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.”
MSNBC, however, argues that publishing the documents is protected by the First Amendment.
Trump also tweeted a response Wednesday morning, writing, “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, 'went to his mailbox' and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!”