Last night on her show, MSNBC journalist Rachel Maddow released the top two pages of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns.
The release was met with both liberal and conservative criticism for being overhyped.
However, I do not believe her presentation was overhyped. These tax returns have been big news since Hillary Clinton claimed he had paid no federal income taxes in years — to which Trump retorted that that makes him smart, rather than denying it.
The returns confirmed that Trump had indeed paid his taxes. The Trumps ended up paying only $5.3 million in federal income taxes, according to a report from DCREPORT. To put that in perspective, that is just a 3.48 percent tax rate. He should be paying a 24 percent tax rate with his $153 million income, but, obviously, he has stooped well under that figure.
Trump’s unpresidented unprecedented response to the report was just a shocking. The President tweeted, “Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, “went to his mailbox” and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!” earlier this morning.
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, “went to his mailbox” and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
The reporter “who nobody [has] ever heard of” is David Cay Johnston. He is a former reporter for the New York Times (which isn’t failing, but rather prospering, despite Trump’s claims) and was nominated twice for and won one time, The Pulitzer Prize. He got the prize for his reporting on inequalities in tax codes.
So no, Mr. President, he’s not some reporter that nobody has heard of.
In fact, Johnston even stated that Trump may have sent the returns himself, as the second page says “Client Copy.”
Despite what many are saying about the report, with these two pages of information comes a lot of perspective about what Trump did and did not do in order to pay as little as possible. It also leaves many questions unanswered.
Since the documents were only the first two pages, they didn’t detail where all of Trump’s money had come from.
Another problem that is not solved by the leak is the question of Trump’s ties with both his businesses and Russia. The documents, which are outdated, are from before his time as President, so it would be impossible to tell whether or not Trump is still involved with his businesses.
For that, we would need this year’s tax returns and personally, I do not think Trump will be giving those up anytime soon, even though he’s the only President since Richard Nixon to not release his returns.
As we continue to trudge through the Trump era, it is important to keep in mind the importance of journalism. Maddow carried out a very important task, one that aids to keeping those in power in check — something that I hope to see more of in the future.
To see a copy of the documents, click here.