There was great anticipation when we learned of the impending release by David Cay Johnston and Rachel Maddow of something pertaining to the new President’s taxes. The actual material released failed to amount to the bombshell many were hoping for. While the Republican President might want us to believe that only the press is interested in his taxes, the vast majority of the us disagree. Yes Mr. President, America wants to see your taxes.
A January 16, 2017 Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 74% of Americans wanted to see the President’s tax returns. The number, according to Public Policy Polling, released March 15, 2017, has dropped to 61%, still a healthy majority. Given the release of the two pages from the client copy of the President and his third wife, Melania’s, 2005 return, the number of Americans who want to see the tax returns is likely to rise.
Rachel Maddow tweeted her intention to discuss the President’s taxes on her March 14, 2017 MSNBC broadcast. It turns out that Maddow only had two pages of the “client copy” from the President and his third wife, Melanie’s, 2005 return. David Cay Johnston, the recipient of the two pages, said that they were mailed to him anonymously.
The filing shows that the President made roughy $255 million, and paid roughly $38 million in federal taxes.The filing also shows a $103 billion write down, possibly coming from the continued carrying forward of arts of the $916 billion loss reported by the New York Times on October 10, 2016. That disclosure was revealed following the anonymous delivery of parts of the 1995 return by the new Republican President and his second wife, Marla Maples.
This new information does not put to rest the suggestion by David Cay Johnston and others that the President has been able to avoid paying tax in many of the 18 years since the reporting of that $916 billion loss. Reports that the President has often paid no federal income tax go back beyond the early 1990’s into the 1970’s. A report prepared in 1981 for the New Jersey Casino Control Commission shows the payment of no federal income taxes in the years 1978 and 1979.
The newest revelation shows that 2005 might simply have been a rare good financial year for the new President. Perhaps, as has been suggested, he isn’t as wealthy as he wants everyone to believe. He wealth might not be in the $10 billion range claimed by the New President, and while still substantial, in the range of $4 billion or less.
The White House essentially confirmed the authenticity of the two pages of this “client copy” from the 2005 return and the numbers contained within the documents in a tweet before publication by Maddow. This was in response to a request for authentication from the White House before the airing of the show.
Lashing out at Rachel Maddow and David Cay Johnston, the White House tweet said that,
“It is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns.”
The President later tweeted,
Mr. President, since the White House confirmed the authenticity of the numbers contained in the document, this news, as aired by MSNBC, cannot possibly be fake.
No evidence exists to date to support the White House suggestion that David Cay Johnson stole this two page document. So long as these two pages, as represented, came anonymously to David Cay Johnston’s mailbox, without any collision by Johnson, he participated in no theft. Of course, the White House essentially provided the information before the Maddow broadcast, therefore any claim of confidentiality has arguably been waived.
“A waiver is essentially a unilateral act of one person that results in the surrender of a legal right. The legal right may be constitutional, statutory, or contractual.”
The DNC, through senior adviser Zac Petkanas, has taken the position that the President has waived any claim of confidentiality concerning his tax records saying,
“If they can release some of the information, they can release all of the information. The only reason not to release tax returns is to hide what’s in them such as financial connections to Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin.”
Why and how did these two pages from this one tax year come to the attention of the news media is an interesting question. Mr. Johnston speculated that the White House might be the source of this leak. Keep in mind that there was a partial release of the information from the 1995 joint return of the President and his second wife, by the New York Times, which has been speculated to have come from Marla Maples.
Once again, like last week’s Wikileaks release of CIA secrets, this could be an attempt to distract us from the administration’s Russian ties, this time with the White House attempting to play the victim. If this is manufactured, fake news, it is possibly coming to us courtesy of the White House.
We, the American people, need to know if the President is hiding connections to foreign agents, or to criminals at home or abroad, and if there are business arrangements that could compromise the national security of the United States. These two pages from a 2005 tax filing do not help answer those questions, and they also tend to help the President make the case that there is nothing to see here. If someone truly intended to inform the public of the extent of the President’s financial ties, it seems that there would have been a release of the President’s complete tax filings for multiple years. Mr. President, we are not satisfied – America wants to see your taxes.