Rachel Maddow revealed the contents of a leaked portion of President Trump's 2005 tax return in a much-hyped show Tuesday night—but it was so much of an anticlimax that the MSNBC broadcast is being compared to Geraldo Rivera's opening of Al Capone's vault. Instead of a "smoking gun" revealing tax evasion, shady financial ties, or exaggerated wealth, as some Trump critics had hoped for, the document showed only that Trump paid around $38 million in more than $150 million in income that year, leading some to speculate that the leak may have come from somebody close to the president—or even from Trump himself. A roundup of coverage:
- Journalist Daniel Cay Johnston told Maddow he received the pages in the mail, and it was "entirely possible that Donald sent this to me." "Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interest," he said. The fact that the pages were marked "Client Copy" fed speculation that the leak came from somebody close to Trump, not the IRS, the Washington Post reports.
- Trump, unusually, had nothing to say about the leak on Twitter, though son Donald Trump Jr. tweeted: "Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realDonaldTrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes!"
- Maddow "trolled us all for ratings" by teasing what turned out to be a surprise-free leak, complains Jon Levine at Mediaite. "In the end, the most remarkable part of the story may be the ratings generated in an hour of cable prime time focusing exclusively on taxes," he writes.
- Maddow is taking a lot of flak for the way she handled the scoop, which she announced with a tweet almost 90 minutes before The Rachel Maddow Show began at 9pm Eastern, though it is sure to keep her at the "center of the political conversation," the New York Times notes. The White House denounced the "illegal" leak and before Maddow's broadcast.
- Rolling Stone looks at four things we did learn from the release, including the fact that in 2005, Trump was still benefiting from the huge $916 million loss he claimed a decade earlier.
- Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post calls the leak a "total nothingburger." The leaked portion of the return "shows about what you would expect it to show. Nothing nefarious, nothing untoward," he writes. "That of course doesn't mean that the fuller 2005 return—or returns from other years—might not be problematic for Trump. But this one just isn't."
- Leaking his own tax return would be a "classic Trump tactic" to distract from issues like his wiretapping claims, the Guardian notes, though it would also carry the risk of bringing attention back to the fact that he is the first president in more than 40 years to refuse to release his returns.
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