Trump: I don’t believe reporter found my tax returns in his mailbox

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump expressed doubt that the copy of his tax returns revealed on Rachel Maddow’s primetime show on MSNBC Tuesday was simply mailed to the journalist who obtained it.

“Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns?” Trump tweeted early Wednesday. “FAKE NEWS!”

David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter, responded with a tweet of his own mocking the president.

“Gee, Donald, your White House confirmed my story,” Johnston wrote. “POTUS fake Tweet. Sad!”



Johnston said the two-page 2005 federal filing appeared in his mailbox at home, unsolicited. The documents were unsigned and stamped “Client Copy,” suggesting they may have been leaked by someone with access to Trump’s files — rather than the Internal Revenue Service.

“I think the reason they probably sent it to me is because I’ve written so much about negative incomes, and how they’re used by wealthy people not to pay taxes, and the alternative minimum tax,” Johnston said on CNN’s “New Day” Wednesday.

Related: The wall around Donald Trump’s taxes cracks, a little

The filing showed Trump would personally have paid about $5.3 million in federal taxes on income of more than $150 million, after a write-down of about $103 million. But he paid an additional $31 million or so because of the alternative minimum tax — which he has proposed eliminating.

Johnston said that it’s possible Trump leaked the filing himself.

“Donald has a long history of leaking things about himself and doing it directly and indirectly, so it’s a possibility,” Johnston said. “The anger with which the White House responded suggests to me it’s not likely, however.”

In a statement released before the MSNBC broadcast, the White House ripped the disclosure of Trump’s taxes.

“Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” a White House official said. “That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million even after taking into account large-scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes, and this illegally published return proves just that.”

Also read: Maddow had Trump’s tax returns. Carlson and Hannity howled in pain.

But after the Maddow show, past and present members of Trump’s team celebrated their release.

“Thank you Rachel @Maddow!” Dan Scavino Jr., the White House’s head of social media, tweeted. “While you embarrassed yourself tonight (FACT) please note, @POTUS @realDonaldTrump will MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!!”




Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. was particularly pleased.




Meanwhile, Johnston said his family has received threats over his disclosure of Trump’s taxes.

“Trump fans call & harass my wife & 1 of my children after I break story White House confirmed. Sad! Let’s have open debate, not threats,” he tweeted.

“To be clear, folks, I don’t intimidate,” Johnston added. “But calls to family are out of bounds, a disturbing sign of how Trump damages civil debate.”



In an interview with the Sinclair Broadcast Group in Michigan Wednesday afternoon, Trump said he was disgusted by the release of his personal tax returns, reiterating that he felt it was illegal for them to be published.

“First of all, it’s illegal to do,” Trump said. “I just think it’s so disgusting when people can take a tax return – which is supposed to be, almost sacred – and just release it like it’s nothing. I think it’s a terrible thing.”

The president also called Johnston a “weird dude.”

“I know the reporter is a weird dude who’s been following me for 25 years so obviously he hasn’t done so well,” Trump said. “He’s been following me in a negative fashion for 25 years, always a hit. And I’m president, so he hasn’t done a very good job.”

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