Many months after Donald Trump strenuously declined to release his tax returns while running for president, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow revealed a section of Trump's 2005 return in a dramatic exclusive on Tuesday night.
Journalist David Cay Johnston obtained the real estate mogul's 1040 form, which is the long form document to record a person's gross income, from 2005, and gave it to Maddow. It revealed that Trump earned more than $150 million income in 2005 and paid just a paltry amount of taxes.
Trump and his wife, Melania, paid $5.3 million in regular federal income, a rate of less than 4%. The Trumps paid an additional $31 million in alternative minimum tax, The Daily Beast reported, citing documents that Johnston published on his website, DCReport.org.
The segment marked the first time that any of Trump's tax return documents had been publicly reported, according to Maddow.
"Why will he not release his full taxes the way other presidents have done?" Maddow asked.
Johnston said the document turned up in his mailbox. Given Trump's affinity for leaking gossip, news, and even "sleazy" photos of his own wife to the press to boost publicity, Johnston suggested that it's not outside the realm of possibility that the president himself sent the document.
There might be something to that theory. As eagle-eyed Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur pointed out, the tax return Maddow held up on the air was stamped "CLIENT COPY."
Before the highly anticipated reveal even aired on Tuesday night, the White House attempted to get out ahead of the story by slamming Maddow as ratings obessessed and questioning the legality of reporting on such a document that Trump clearly didn't want to see the light of day.
“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,” the White House said in a statement released before the program.
During the campaign, Trump weakly insisted that because he's under audit by the IRS and, miraculously, has been for many years, he was for some reason unable to release his tax returns. (The IRS repeatedly said being under audit doesn't preclude anyone from releasing taxes.)
The plot thickens.