In another major leak for the White House, MSNBC claimed Tuesday night that the network had obtained President Trump’s 2005 tax documents.
Host Rachel Maddow said Trump’s federal return for that year was “turned over” to journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave MSNBC a first look at the documents. It’s unclear how Johnston, with the website DCReport.org, obtained the files.
The White House pre-emptively pushed back minutes before the on-air report, saying that publishing those returns would be illegal.
“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,” a White House statement said.
The White House adds that it is “totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns.”
The White House acknowledged Trump made over $150 million that year, and paid $38 million in income taxes.
Journalist David Cay Johnston (Left)
The report follows unsuccessful efforts by Democrats since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign to pressure Trump’ to release the documents. Last month, House Democrats even tried to force Trump to give them to Congress, only to be blocked by majority Republicans.
Maddow’s claims also point to what could be another significant leak inside the federal government meant to embarrass the new president. In his first two months on the job, reports have surfaced with sensitive details about Trump’s calls with foreign leaders as well as details from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Trump last month blasted what he termed “illegal leaks.”
The president’s tax documents were a top target for critics throughout the 2016 race. Despite indications from Trump early on that he would follow a decades-long tradition of presidential nominees making their returns public, he later balked.
He cited an IRS audit as the reason he did not want to release the documents, while also saying at a September debate that he’d release them if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton turned over the thousands of emails deleted from her private server.
She didn’t. In January, after Trump was sworn in, Counselor Kellyanne Conway told ABC’s “This Week” that Trump was not going to release the returns.