After teasing the big reveal for an hour leading up to her show, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow disclosed the 2005 tax returns of Donald Trump Tuesday night. Unfortunately for Maddow and company, after MSNBC’s breathless announcements, complete with a “Trump’s Tax Returns” countdown clock, the White House stole her thunder by going ahead and giving America the numbers – and slamming the network for trying to make a big show of something over a decade old and “illegally published.” And, is turns out, the gist of the “breaking news” MSNBC revealed Tuesday has already been reported.
In a “BREAKING” tweet Tuesday evening, Maddow announced that they’ve “got Trump tax returns… (Seriously).”
The Daily Beast‘s David Cay Johnston chimed in to announce that he’d be on air with Maddow to help her explain to her audience how they should feel about the returns, tweeting, “I’ll break a big story about Trump and his taxes – 9PM eastern.”
The series of announcements were soon followed by a dismissive, rather hilarious statement from the White House beating team MSNBC to the punch.
“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 statement read. After making sure everyone knows that Trump was “one of the most successful businessmen in the world,” the White House revealed that he paid $38 million in taxes “even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes, such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes,” adding “and this illegally published tax return proves just that.”
— David Shepardson (@davidshepardson) March 15, 2017
When Maddow finally revealed the 2005 tax returns — which turned out to be only two pages of them — the host made sure to underscore that she was doing nothing illegal by revealing them. Before she invited on Johnston, she read part of the White House statement, but carefully cut out the “desperate for ratings” opening line. Johnston, she revealed, received the two pages in the mail, which he likewise stressed was perfectly legal on his part.
While MSNBC released the 2005 returns (well, two pages of them, anyhow), the Daily Beast published an article detailing what they clearly hope America will be outraged over: that Trump paid “just a small percentage” in regular income taxes.
Here’s how the piece begins, initially trying to stress that Trump only paid $5.3 million in “regular income taxes” before revealing in the next paragraph that he paid an additional $31 million in the “alternative minimum tax.”
Donald Trump earned more than $150 million in the year 2005—and paid just a small percentage of that in regular federal income taxes. Daily Beast contributor David Cay Johnston has obtained what appear to be the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income tax return, and published an analysis of those pages on his website, DCReport.org. The Daily Beast could not independently verify these documents.
The documents show Trump and his wife Melania paying $5.3 million in regular federal income tax—a rate of less than 4% However, the Trumps paid an additional $31 million in the so-called “alternative minimum tax,” or AMT. Trump has previously called for the elimination of this tax. …
Trump’s 2005 return also shows that he’d continued to benefit from the roughly $916 million loss he reported in his 1995 return—published last year by The New York Times. Using a loophole Congress closed in 1996, Trump converted that loss into a tax credit for the same amount he could offset against income.
The only problem with the “big reveal” is that Trump’s tax savings in 2005 due to his massive loss in 1995 has already been reported by the Wall Street Journal and others. So, yes, this is another MSNBC nothingburger.