Credible sources to include George W. Bush’s former ethic attorney speculate that Trump may have leaked his own returns in an effort to discredit the media.
Allegations that the White House leaked Trump’s tax returns are beginning to appear in the wake of Rachel Maddow’s less than explosive Tuesday show.
A couple of hours before last night’s show, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow tweeted that she was going to reveal Trump’s federal taxes – well, she claimed to have his 2005 returns.
Shortly afterwards the noted conservative website Forbes reported that “the White House responded before the show even aired, noting to MSNBC that the network is ‘desperate for ratings’ and that the network was ‘violating a law to push a story.’”
As it turns out, Maddow had little information to provide – mainly that Trump had paid $38 million in federal income tax on more than $150 million in income for 2005, and that information had already been confirmed by the White House statement prior to Maddow’s show going on the air.
“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.”
Many are speculating that the White House itself leaked the information, considering the way last night played out coupled with Trump’s long-standing war with the media and pattern of trying to distract media attention from other issues.
The Washington Post tweeted a link to an article asking: “Did Trump have his own tax return leaked? That was the big question after Maddow.”
Did Trump have his own tax return leaked? That was the big question after Maddow. https://t.co/QMN3JWyiyV
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 15, 2017
CNBC reports that Richard Painter, the journalist who provided Maddow the returns, raised the possibility that Trump or his representative released the taxes.
President Donald Trump may have leaked his own 2005 tax return, according to the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter David Cay Johnston.
Johnston said he obtained the document by mail. He subsequently shared those findings exclusively with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday.
“By the way, let me point out that it’s entirely possible that Donald Trump sent this to me. Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things,” said Johnston, founder of DCReport.org. Johnston won his Pulitzer in 2001 for his stories on the inequality of the tax code while he was with The New York Times.
The Independent reports that George W. Bush’s former ethics attorney, Richard Painter, followed up on that claim and suggested that Trump may have leaked his own tax returns.
The first two pages of the President’s 2005 tax returns were mailed to MSNBC journalist David Cay Johnston and marked “client copy”, indicating they were files prepared for Mr Trump and not those sent to the Internal Revenue Service.
Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics counsel under former President Bush, wrote on twitter: “It is marked “client copy”. It is not the copy filed with the IRS. Did he leak it himself? Lets see 2006-2016.”
It is marked “client copy”. It is not the copy filed with the IRS. Did he leak it himself? Lets see 2006-2016https://t.co/KQcPBsxrLd
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) March 15, 2017
And the response by Trump and others merely serves to feed that speculation.
As The New York Times reports: “The president’s son Donald Trump Jr. suggested that the disclosure only demonstrated his father’s business acumen. ‘Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realdonaldtrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes!’ he wrote on Twitter.”
Trump pounced on on the report Wednesday morning as well tweeting his usual refrain: “FAKE NEWS.”
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, "went to his mailbox" and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
We many never know who leaked those tax returns, but one thing is certain: the controversy and fascination for information regarding Trump’s federal income taxes is as strong as ever.
However, now it’s time to get back to Russia, Trump’s immigration order, and a host of other things he would love to distract Americans from considering.