MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” partially uncovered one of the biggest mysteries in the American political world: President Donald Trump’s tax returns.
Well, at least Trump’s 1040 form from 2005.
The return was the centerpiece of tonight’s episode of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” which featured an appearance by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, who first obtained the document.
The president has refused to release his tax returns despite months of urging from various media outlets, political opponents and the public. It’s been a long journey that included over one million people signing a petition to see them released.
“There is genuine curiosity as to whether they will bear out what he has said about himself in terms of his income. Honestly, there is genuine concern as to whether he will pursue tax policies that are designed to personally benefit himself and his family,” Maddow said on Tuesday night before the big reveal.
She continued: “This president may be financial beholden to an individual, an institution, to a country… we can’t know any of that without his tax returns.”
Trump has refused to release his tax returns, often mentioning being under audit as the primary reason. His refusal broke a longstanding tradition of the Republican candidate releasing financial filings that dated back nine GOP candidates to Gerald Ford, according to the New York Daily News.
Reporters were so desperate to find Trump’s taxes that a three-page filing from 1995 became national news when the New York Times obtained it back in October. The explosive Times headline said, “Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades,” and noted a $916 million loss. The loss was so big that it could have allowed Trump to skip federal income taxes for up to 18 years, according to the Times.
Despite the tax drama, Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to win the presidential election roughly five weeks after the Times’ report.
“You know, the only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters,” Trump said at a press conference shortly after Inauguration Day.
Maddow shocked the world on Tuesday night when she tweeted that she would reveal Trump’s tax returns, but eventually clarified that she only had the 2005 form. Despite being over a decade old, the returns are in the public’s interest, according to Maddow, because they can shed light on the President’s business interests, which may national security implications. Citizens, Maddow said tonight, have a right to know if the President is “financially beholden to an individual, to an institution, to a country.”
In 2005, when the return is from, Trump married current First Lady Melania Trump, hosted “The Apprentice” on NBC, and even started the now-disgraced Trump University. A lot has changed since then and Trump currently resides in the White House.
A watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a lawsuit against Trump in January, claiming that he violated the rarely mentioned portion of the Constitution know as the “Emoluments Clause.” The clause prohibits Government officials including the President from accepting payments from foreign governments — Trump shot down the suit, saying it was “totally without merit.”
Trump was obviously not the president back in 2005, and little revealed during Maddow’s show tonight suggests a violation of the Emoluments Clause. But at the very least, it will trigger America’s curiosity — and perhaps future leaks.