Rachel Maddow Shares Part Of Trump’s 2005 Tax Returns

The MSNBC host shared a portion of Donald Trump's 2005 tax returns

Donald Trump — REUTERS
Mar 14, 2017 at 8:58 PM ET

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday unveiled President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return in a much-hyped reveal that didn’t reveal all that much.

The highlight: In 2005, Trump paid about $38 million on roughly $150 million in income. The incomplete returns, which were leaked and given exclusively to the Maddow Show, appear to be the first time that some of Trump’s returns have been made public, but don’t appear to contain much in terms of damning revelations.

Maddow led Tuesday night’s show by noting that Trump had broken with decades of tradition by not releasing his tax returns as a candidate for president.

“The stated explanation here makes no sense,” Maddow said, referring to Trump’s repeated claim that he couldn’t release his returns because he’s under audit, which doesn’t prohibit release. “So what is the real explanation?”

She continued, recapping a series of suspicious — if far from proven — financial links between Donald Trump and various wealthy Russian and other foreign interests. “These are the reasons people want to see his tax returns,” Maddow said. “Is he receiving money from foreign governments?”

Maddow obtained the two-page document from Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnson, who said he received the returns from an anonymous source who left it in his mailbox. Like Maddow, Johnson, who specializes in economics and tax policy, speculated on what the returns may or may not suggest but offered no smoking gun that the president had done anything illegal, unethical, or even inappropriate.

The White House released a scathing statement just prior to Maddow’s broadcast claiming the journalists had somehow broken the law by obtaining his tax return.

“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 White House statement said. The statement went on to praise the president’s successes in business and confirm the figures in Maddow’s report.

Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns has been a contentious issue that dogged his campaign and followed him into his presidency. A leaked copy of his taxes shows that he declared “a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years,” according to the New York Times, which broke the story in October, one of the few so-called “October surprises” that Trump confronted on his way to the White House

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said in January that the president will not be releasing his tax returns even after his audit is completed. Calls for the release of Trump’s tax reached a deafening pitch upon his inauguration when a petition that called for the tax documents surpassed a million people by day 28. As Vocativ reported at the time, it was more than twice the number of people who signed the second most popular petition on the White House petition platform, We The People.

This show of force contradicts Trump’s claim that it’s not the public who cares about his tax returns.

“You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters, OK? They’re the only ones,” he said.