“One year could be a fluke, perhaps done just for show.” — Mitt Romney on why he released 12 years of tax returns
Rachel Maddow got a hold of Trump’s tax returns.
Well, not all of them. Just the ones from 2005.
And, frankly, they aren’t all that exciting. He paid $38 million on taxes out of about $150 million in income. He wrote off losses that we already knew about — deductions, etc. But he paid, effectively, 25% in taxes. Which isn’t surprising and didn’t tell us anything that we don’t already know.
Here’s the weird part: We don’t know where that return came from. It could have come from anywhere — out of the very, very narrow circle of people who had his tax returns. If I were to bet, I’d say that it came from Trump himself. David Cay Johnston, the New York Times reporter who got the forms, brought up this possibility.
I think that this possibility is probably true, for a few reasons.
First, there’s the fact that before Maddow’s show even aired, the Trump administration came out and basically stated that the return was authentic and Trump did, indeed, pay $38 million in taxes on $150 million in 2005, a fact they seemed comfortable with. They focused, primarily, on the fact that he paid taxes in that year, almost as if they were prepared for it, and they hit on some pretty well-thought-out talking points (discussed below). When Trump is truly surprised, such statements often come from outraged Tweetstorms. This seems much more thought out and deliberate.
Second, this news (which the media really had to report) perfectly continues the picture of the media that Trump has been pushing so hard. He’s wanted eyes off the wiretapping allegation he made against Obama for a while. This does it like a charm. The media has to report on this news — has to, because it’s news — and it makes Trump look awesome, because he actually paid taxes, while making the media look petty, because…well, he actually paid taxes. And 2005 seems like such an irrelevant, random year anyway.
Which brings us to point three. Why 2005, of all years? Why THAT YEAR? There are so many years to choose from. Why not choose a year that is, possibly, more incriminating? Because, by all appearances, it seems like the least incriminating year. Maybe he did it himself — chose the year himself. Which would make sense because…Fourth, by making the media look petty regarding the reporting of a seemingly random, irrelevant tax return, Trump may be looking to make the entire discussion of his tax returns look random and irrelevant. If it works, every discussion of tax returns henceforth will be silenced with “fake news” and eventually disappear — and, if it doesn’t, the “obsession” with tax returns can actually become a win for Trump after this story. The labeling of this story with the words “illegal” and “dishonest” by the Trump administration seem to confirm that this is how they will use the story.
So yeah, I think he did it. I mean, he has been suspected of releasing evidence to change the conversation other times, as well. For example, he was suspected of releasing the tapes to Fox News of himself posing as publicist “John Miller”complimenting himself on a radio show in order to control the conversation, in a discussion that blew Megyn Kelly away. To see what I mean, check out the clip below.
So it seems he has a precedent of doing this kind of thing.
How should we respond? Well, I like what Democrats are doing so far — pressuring him to release ALL his returns. But we also have to keep up the heat on the other items that are so important to the American people that Trump is threatening with his actions. Oh, and get him to talk about the wiretapping, because he hates it.
But let’s not waste time punishing Rachel Maddow for reporting on the returns. That’s the ENTIRE PURPOSE of what Trump seems to want us to do in the first place.
She had to do it. It was news, and it is her job. We have to defend the press, because if Trump can use this story to co-opt liberals, along with conservatives, into condemning the media, we are done as a country, Trump controls our opinion of every Trump news story, and we will soon be living in a Putin-like state (which, I suspect, is exactly what Putin would want in the first place, but that’s another story).
Thanks for reading.
P.S. I have a Patreon, in case you want to support what I do.