Last night Rachel Maddow displayed a two-page copy of Donald Trump’s 1040 tax form from the year 2005. Almost immediately skeptical reporters and internet users at-large began speculating that the person responsible for leaking these two pages was none other than Donald Trump himself. Here’s why.
DONALD TRUMP’S WELL-KNOWN HISTORY OF LEAKING: The pages were mailed to Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter David Cay Johnston from an anonymous source. As soon as the discussion begins, Johnston notes he believes Trump could be the source of the tax forms.
“There is absolutely nothing improper about journalists — if you haven’t solicited something — getting it over the transom. By the way, let me point out, it’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me. Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things.”
Johnston went on to list a number of news items believed to be leaked by Donald Trump himself. We also know Donald Trump had a habit of pretending to be his own publicist and used the names "John Miller" and “John Barron” to plant stories in news outlets.
Another interesting theory surfaces about why the 2005 return would be a favorable year to leak:
Donald Trump married Melania Knaus in 2005. She had been a permanent resident since 2001. She became a US citizen in 2006. Part of the US naturalization checklist the last 5 years tax returns OR the last 3 years tax returns if married to a US citizen, which would be in Melania's case:
2003 single filing...
2004 single filing...
2005 joint filing with DJT
Melania's citizenship depended on a squeaky clean join tax filing in 2005. This is why Trump, yesterday, leaked his own (partial) 2005 1040 form. It was the only year he was forced to play by the rules.
THE WHITE HOUSE RESPONSE: As soon as the first Maddow tweet went out touting the tax forms and promising a segment with David Cay Johnston, the White House issued a pre-emptive whine about "illegally published" tax returns. This was unusual because the White House has been slow to respond to allegations or ignores them all together. But Tuesday night, they seemed to have a canned response ready to go. Veteran reporters who covered Trump on the campaign trail said the language of the statement points to being written by Donald Trump, not an aide.
And David Cay Johnston isn’t some random reporter. He’s a Pulitzer-Prize investigative reporter who wrote the best-selling book, The Making of Donald Trump. He’s been digging around in Donald Trump’s corporate records for years. Now Trump gets to publicly bash two of his primary nemeses: Rachel Maddow, who’s been reporting on his numerous Russian connections and David Cay Johnston, who wrote a best-seller about Trump’s shady business practices.
CLIENT COPY: The Rachel Maddow Show and David Cay Johnston have provided a PDF copy of the two-page tax form. On the second page of the form, the form is clearly marked “client copy.” That means this did not come from the IRS. This could likely only come from Donald or Melania Trump.
THE TAX RETURN APPEARED FAVORABLE TO TRUMP: By releasing a statement so quickly, the Trump White House immediately confirmed the tax return was real. The return and Trump’s own statement reveal Donald Trump paid $35 million in taxes in 2005. He suffered heavy financial losses before and after 2005, so this would have been a very favorable year for his tax return to be released. Even sometime Donald Trump allies said the fact this is the year that was leaked seems too suspicious to ignore.
THE TIMING OF THE LEAK: At least for the night, the conversation shifted away from the disastrous Trumpcare plan that is projected to take away insurance from 24 million people. It also dampened the news that FBI Director James Comey may go public with information on whether the Trump-Russia probe exists or not.
What do you think Trump would prefer the nation and the world be talking about last night? His disastrous healthcare plan? His connections to Russian mobsters, oligarchs and other shadowy Russian figures that may have had an influence on our election? That may still be influencing Donald Trump in the White House? Or would he rather the country be talking about his one successful real estate year where he actually paid taxes? As Joe Scarborough notes, the answer is painfully obvious:
See more of the Rachel Maddow discussion with David Cay Johnston and Chris Hayes on the mysterious tax returns that showed up in Johnston’s mail: