WASHINGTON— Members of Donald Trump’s inner-circle are publicly taking a victory lap Thursday after the release of two pages of the president’s 2005 tax returns show he paid $38 million in federal taxes.
The response seems odd considering that the president has pushed back against releasing his tax returns since the campaign, most recently on the grounds that only reporters care about seeing them and the American public just doesn’t care.
On Wednesday evening, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow sparked widespread speculation when she announced on Twitter that she had “Trump tax returns.”
BREAKING: We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET. MSNBC.
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) March 14, 2017
While she clarified in less than an hour that it was just 2005’s 1040 forum, expectations were already sky high.
The content of the returns also seemed to disappoint the hype after showing that Trump made $150 million and paid back about $38 million, a development that killed speculation that Trump had not paid taxes since the 90s. Trump’s tax rate in 2005 was about 25 percent. The two-page release does not detail how he earned that money and that information is mostly likely in the hundreds of pages that have not been released.
After Maddow’s report fell flat, Donald Trump, Jr. and White House social media director, and Trump’s former golf caddie, Dan Scavino Jr. both thanked Maddow on Twitter.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 15, 2017
— Dan Scavino Jr. (@DanScavino) March 15, 2017
Before the returns were released, the White House already was striking a confident tone.
“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 White House said in a statement sent to various media outlets. “The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.”
While Trump declined to respond to any shouted answers over the story, he Tweeted Thursday morning that he doubted MSNBC’s explanation that they received the documents after David Cay Johnston had received them from an unidentified source in the mail.
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
Neither Trump nor anybody in the administration have called for a probe into the returns’ release.
In fact, some have speculated that the documents reflect so well on Trump that he may have leaked them himself.
The Trump camp released one positive tax return to distract from Russia hearings and the Trumpcare meltdown. That’s painfully obvious. https://t.co/NLBVPJhwg6
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) March 15, 2017