MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow devoted her show tonight to an exclusive: two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax return. According to Maddow, the tax returns were given to her by reporter David Johnston who said they had turned up unexpectedly in his mailbox.
Prior to the show, Maddow contacted the White House for confirmation that the returns were real. In response, the White House released the return before the show aired, spoiling Maddow’s scoop, along with a statement criticizing the leak. From the Hill:
“You know you are desperate for rating 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. “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.”…
“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 White House said. “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.”
Maddow devoted the opening of her show to a series of claims about possible Trump connections to a Russian oligarch (he bought a house Trump owned) and other foreign entities including the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Maddow argued that until the tax returns were released Americans would never know if Trump was “beholden” to these or other foreign interests.
After a commercial break, Maddow “revealed” that in 2005 Trump reported $150 million in income and paid $38 million in taxes. Not everyone saw that as a negative for the President.
cc Harry Reid? https://t.co/1w0qLSOTcQ
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) March 15, 2017
It's great for him. https://t.co/DFTDKMHydA
— Chris Cillizza (@ChrisCillizza) March 15, 2017
Even Clinton partisans seemed to think the story was a dud.
life comes at you fast. pic.twitter.com/rLPdYsPMtI
— Jeff B., who on earth is this guy?? (@EsotericCD) March 15, 2017
Here’s the opening of Maddow’s show complete with Nixon comparison and tangents about foreign oligarchs:
Here’s the second segment when she actually talks about the return: