MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, with the help of Daily Beast contributor David Cay Johnston, revealed a portion of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns on Tuesday night – and the White House is freaking out about it.
In a statement released a short time ago, the White House said this:
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.
First of all, with or without this exclusive reporting by Maddow, her ratings would have been just fine. As Jason Easley wrote yesterday, her audience is rapidly growing and even beat Fox News last week among key viewers.
What was particularly striking, though, is that the White House accused Maddow of breaking the law by revealing this portion of Trump’s tax documents. Or, as they called her reporting, “totally illegal.”
But as Maddow pointed out during Tuesday’s program, sharing the returns – which were lawfully obtained – is part of a journalist’s first amendment rights, though we probably shouldn’t expect Trump to know anything about those since he has spent nearly every day of his first two months in office either attacking the press or avoiding them.
Still, Maddow fought back:
Rachel Maddow: “The first amendment gives us the right to publish this return.” pic.twitter.com/Jgbu1GRSIk
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 15, 2017
“For the record, the first amendment gives us the right to publish this return. It is not illegally published, nor are we fake,” Maddow said.
It’s clear that the MSNBC star hit a nerve in the Trump White House by revealing something that no one in the media has yet been able to – his tax returns, even if it was just a portion.
Perhaps the president is just angry because he’s afraid this is only the beginning of what could be more leaks into his financial background, which could show more than Trump’s earnings – but where the money came from.