Rachel Maddow set the internet abuzz on Tuesday night after tweeting that her show had acquired President Trump's tax returns - and later that evening, the MSNBC host delivered.
BREAKING: We've got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.- Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017
What we've got is from 2005... the President's 1040 form... details to come tonight 9PM ET, MSNBC.- Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 15, 2017
After months of excuses from Trump and his team as to why he hasn't released his tax returns (despite repeated requests that he do so), The Rachel Maddow Show decided to take matters into their own hands by releasing the president's 1040 form from 2005 on Tuesday evening. The segment began by explaining why, exactly, the president's tax returns are of interest, particularly in regards to potential foreign conflicts of interest. Maddow then explained what they'd obtained and what can be gleaned from it.
While not quite the all-out, explosive exposé people were hoping for, the document did provide new insight into how much Trump pays in taxes and why he might be avoiding releasing his more recent tax returns. First obtained by DCReport founder and editor David Cay Johnston, who claims he found the returns in his mailbox, the first two pages of Trump's 2005 federal income tax return show that Trump earned over $150 million that year, and that he and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, paid a combined $5.3 million in regular federal income tax. In addition, the Trumps also paid $31 million in "alternative minimum tax," something the president has previously said should be eliminated.
During the segment, Maddow stated that the White House has confirmed the validity of the two pages, reading aloud their statement released prior to the broadcast:
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 return that will benefit all Americans.
In response, Maddow countered that the First Amendment protects her right to publish the documents, before taking a jab at Trump's love for "fake news" by making a joke about her reporting being real.
Rachel Maddow: "The first amendment gives us the right to publish this return." pic.twitter.com/Jgbu1GRSIk- Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 15, 2017
After a commercial break, the host went on to discuss the obtained tax returns with Johnston and her MSNBC colleague Chris Hayes - pointing out that the most exciting revelation isn't from the document itself, but instead the fact that it proves that Trump's tax returns are obtainable without the president releasing them. Jonhston also pointed out that, because the leak was anonymous, it's completely possible Trump himself leaked the documents.
As previously reported, Trump and his team have offered a plethora of excuses as to why the president has not released his tax returns, most notably claiming that he could not do so because he was under audit. However, prior to the election, the IRS gave Trump permission to release his returns despite the audit - something he seems to have disregarded.
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