Hours after a much-touted MSNBC “scoop” revealed part of President Trump's 2005 tax returns -- and in the process, undermined the left's speculation that he was a tax dodger -- the commander-in-chief fired back Wednesday morning with another volley of barb-laden tweets.
Though Trump was set to hit the road for a stop in Detroit and a rally in Tennessee on Wednesday, he kicked off his travel with a victory lap on Twitter after DCReport.org reporter David Cay Johnston revealed 2005 Trump tax documents to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Johnston said he found the president’s 1040 form “in the mail,” a story Trump wasn’t buying as he took aim at Maddow’s parent network.
“Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted.
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, "went to his mailbox" and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
Johnston's story about finding the tax documents in the mail mirrors how a New York Times reporter was mailed Trump tax info from 1995 in October.
The tax documents, which showed Trump made $153 million in 2005 and paid $36.5 million in income taxes ($38 million in total taxes), did not exactly amount to a bombshell. His effective rate was close to 25 percent. It appeared so favorable to the president that Johnston -- a longtime reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 -- speculated to Maddow it was possible “Donald sent this to me.”
“Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interest,” Johnston said.
Former Trump Deputy Campaign Manager David Bossie told "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday that Johnston's charge was ludicrous.
"That's ridiculous," Bossie said. "President Trump is a very private person. He takes his privacy, the safety of his family, and his business empire very seriously."
The White House in a Tuesday night statement called the tax story a sign that Maddow was “desperate for ratings.” A senior administration official added it was “totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns.”
Maddow argued the returns were “not illegally published” and said MSNBC merely exercised its First Amendment right to publish information in the public interest. The unauthorized publishing of federal tax returns is a criminal offense that can be punished by five years in jail or a fine of up to $5,000.
Most of the post-reveal chatter focused on how Maddow overhyped the report and took too long -- about 20 minutes -- to even break the story on her own show, a delay that allowed other publications and TV shows to report on the tax news ahead of her.
The "Legal Insurrection" website mocked Maddow with the headline "Rachel Maddow's career committed suicide live on national TV tonight."
"If anything, Maddow helped Trump by showing he paid $38 million in taxes on $150 million of income. Hardly the narrative the Democrats like," William A. Jacobson wrote.
Donald Trump Jr. sent out a slew of tweets lambasting the Maddow segment and highlighting the millions of dollars in taxes his dad was proven to have paid. The narrative that Trump paid little or no taxes has dogged Trump since the GOP primary battle. Trump has so far refused to release his taxes, saying the documents are under audit.
"BREAKING NEWS: 12 years ago @realDonaldTrump made a lot of money and paid a lot in taxes #scandal #thankyouMaddow," Trump Jr. tweeted.
Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 15, 2017
Trump turned from the tax debacle in a subsequent Wednesday tweet, also taking aim at rapper Snoop Dogg – who took literal aim at an actor dressed up as Trump in a new music video, pretending to shoot the man.
“Can you imagine what the outcry would be if @SnoopDogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!” Trump wrote.
Trump also previewed his Wednesday travel schedule and boasted of his early successes in bringing auto manufacturing jobs back to America.
“Will be going to Detroit, Michigan (love) today for a big meeting on bringing back car production to State & U.S. Already happening!” Trump tweeted.
He added: “Looking forward to a big rally in Nashville, Tennessee, tonight. Big crowd of great people expected. Will be fun!”