On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow handed President Trump a big victory, dispelling past rumors from the liberal press that Trump could have avoided taxes for nearly two decades. Maddow only had two pages of a 2005 tax return that looked as though Donald Trump himself had leaked.
According to the documents, Trump made $153 million and paid $38 million in federal income taxes, an effective tax rate of 24 percent. So contrary to the liberal’s claims, Trump did pay taxes.
Trump paid a higher income tax rate in 2005 than Mitt Romney did in 2011 (11 percent), Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2014 (13.5 percent), and President Obama in 2015 (19.6 percent). Sure, returns from other years could contain something more nefarious—after all, the Maddow scoop consisted of two pages from a 12-year-old tax return. But forgive me for not just trusting all the people who simply assume that Trump is hiding something explosive.
None of this stopped Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnson (who actually got the returns first) from appearing on the show and immediately pivoting into why these returns are evidence of an unfair system with rates too low for the wealthy. Suddenly, the case for Trump as a Russian agent just got a lot weaker. It’s funny: Steve Bannon has declared the press “the opposition party,” but they might be Trump’s biggest asset.
Johnson tried helping recover from the lack of a smoking gun by saying: “Most importantly, what we don’t have here, which is, this describes the types of income, but not the sources. That’s what we need to know. Who is the president getting money from?” He later said, “There must be something hiding in his returns.”
But Johnson’s only evidence for that is the fact that Trump doesn’t want to hand his personal financial records over so people like him.
Such performances from the Fourth Estate keep diminishing the remaining trust from the public. Maddow showed that Mr. Trump pays taxes and is indeed wealthy. He even got more of an incentive to remain secretive, a big win for President Trump.