David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter who revealed the news of President Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2005, said Tuesday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show” that the two-page document comprising Trump’s tax returns were mailed to him. “They came in the mail,” Johnston told Rachel Maddow on her show. He added that Trump could have sent the documents himself.
Johnston did not specify when he received the documents and said that he did not break any law to obtain them because he did not solicit them. White House released a statement before the “Rachel Maddow Show” saying that the tax documents were obtained and revealed illegally.
The leaked documents said Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on a declared income of $150 million with an effective tax rate of 25 percent. Trump allegedly wrote off $100 million in losses to reduce the tax amount. A major portion of the total tax, amounting to $31 million, was paid under AMT (alternative minimum tax). Without it, Trump would have to pay almost $5 million in regular taxes and $2 million in self-employment taxes.
“Trump’s return shows that he’s pushing tax changes that benefit multimillionaire heirs like him, not the middle class,” Lily Batchelder, a tax law professor at New York University and former majority chief tax counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, told the New York Times. “His proposal to repeal the A.M.T. would have slashed his own tax burden by $31 million, and his income tax rate would be lower than the average rate paid by families earning $75,000 to $100,000.”
Johnston, who leaked the documents of Trump’s tax returns, had written a book on Trump in 2016, “The Making of Donald Trump.” He released the book in August 2016. Johnston first met Trump in 1988 while he was working with the Philadelphia Inquirer. It took him almost thirty years to cover Trump and then finally write his book on him.
“I almost immediately recognized Donald as the P.T. Barnum of our age,” Johnston told the Times in an interview about his book last year.
Johnston was a former tax reporter at the Times from February 1995 to April 2008. He also received the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for his work related to exposing loopholes in the U.S. tax code.
In 2016, Johnston found a news website named “DC Report” that mainly reports on the ways in which the Trump administration works. The website’s aim is to cover Trump in an in-depth manner.
Johnston tweeted several hours after breaking the news saying, “Let’s have open debates, not threats.”
After his inauguration in January, Trump became the first president in modern history to refuse to provide his tax details. He said the government forbid him from revealing his tax history and that he was being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.
During a news conference in January, Trump mentioned about his taxes in front of the audience. That was the last time he did so.
“I’m not releasing the tax returns because as you know they’re under audit,” he said while specifying that his taxes had nothing to do with voters. “The only one that cares about my tax returns are the reporters.”
“You learn very little from a tax return,” he added.