The White House has issued a statement saying President Donald Trump had more than $150 million in income in 2005, on which he paid $38 million in income taxes, and blasted a television report disclosing his official tax returns as an illegal act.
The statement late Tuesday was issued before a report broadcast by MSNBC-TV. Network host Rachel Maddow revealed what she said were two pages of Trump’s 2005 tax forms, and credited David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and tax analyst, as the source of the information.
Johnston told Maddow he found the two pages in his mailbox. He said he did not know who sent them, or why.
Maddow said she sent copies of the forms to the White House for comment. The administration issued its public statement before her program went on the air Tuesday night.
In its pre-emptive statement, the White House said, “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 statement added: “Before being elected president, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world. It is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the president will focus on his.”
Trump has long insisted that the American public is not interested in his returns, and has said little can be learned from them. But Trump’s full returns would contain key details about things like his charitable giving, how much he made each year and what were the sources of his earnings.
This tax issue was a major point of attack from his campaign rival Hillary Clinton, who suggested Trump had something to hide.
Although Trump repeatedly said he could not release his current tax returns because he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service — a claim the IRS said is not correct — the issue caught the public imagination months ago.
Since Trump took over the White House on January 20, more than 1 million Americans have signed an electronic petition demanding the president release his tax documents.
The White House has not said whether the president plans to release any of his annual tax returns while he is in office.