UPDATE: I’ve recorded a podcast that expands upon my thoughts on Maddow, in addition to a few other points of interest. There’s also a podcast companion article in which I list specific sources that I reference in the episode.
David Cay Johnson, a prominent financial journalist and Trump-empire expert, very recently received Donald Trump’s 2005 IRS 1040 form from an anonymous source. The 1040, for those unaware, is the IRS tax form that lists totals and subtotals – assets, income, and a calculation of tax liability. The forms indicate that Trump paid $38 million in taxes on $150 million in income.
Rachel Maddow invited David Cay Johnson onto her MSNBC show to discuss the exclusive leak. Actually let me revise: first Maddow plugged Johnson’s book, but THEN they jumped into the leak. Unfortunately, almost everything important we can learn from the 1040, I’ve already told you. Maddow, in a quest for ratings, publicized this leak on Twitter with vague language suggesting she had Trump’s 2005 schedules, which would contain very specific details about where the totals on Trump’s 1040 from came from:
About an hour later, she got a bit more specific:
What’s most interesting about the forms is that they are “client copies” of the form, meaning that they were copies for Trump’s reference. All of this suggests Trump leaked the forms himself. But why?
Two reasons. First, if Trump did leak the forms then he is using this benign data to distract from the severe backlash Trumpcare (AHCA) has been getting from all sides or from his own ridiculous Obama wiretapping claims. Or both. Actually, probably both. Secondly, the data is so un-enlightening, Trump can call it “fake news” and fit it nicely into his cleverly spun narrative against the main stream media.
Trump supporters will see this as “liberal” desperation. In fact, the White House preemptively released a statement verifying the authenticity of the returns, but also suggesting that Maddow’s actions were “totally illegal” – they weren’t, by the way. The statement concluded: “The dishonest media can continue to make this a part of their agenda while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.” If Stephen Miller didn’t pen this statement himself, I’d be surprised.
Trump is a media genius. He baited Maddow using her greed for ratings and she fell for it. All she’s managed to do is further distance Trump supporters from the media and those who approve of her reporting were very likely already convinced that Trump has ties with Russia. What now? Calls for Trump’s tax returns in the future will be scoffed at – Maddow will be referenced by name. These demands have already been voted down by Congressional Republicans, but now will they even be taken seriously at all? Trump’s connections with Russia will be downplayed and seen as rabid liberal attacks on conservatism. Plus, Trump has long been a proponent of killing the Alternative Minimum Tax, which would grant him – and other ultra wealthy individuals like him – more significant tax breaks. You can expect that initiative to gain more supporters now or, at least, you can expect the traction of opponents of the “reform” to diminish.
I am furious and extremely disappointed in Rachel Maddow. In an era where our President is a habitual liar – even about daily minutiae – we CANNOT allow him to be empowered further by playing into his hand.
Donald Trump needs to release his tax returns like every other modern President has done. If there’s nothing to hide, why is he refusing to do so? The “under audit” defense can only last so long. If you are against him releasing his returns – why? Are you against transparency? At the very least, if he’s done nothing wrong, you’ll get the opportunity to gloat about how right you were and I would welcome the revelation that Donald Trump is actually just a very rough around the edges saint.
To those of you opposed to Trump, remember: don’t stand down at town halls, don’t stop calling your representatives,stay focused, and don’t stay quiet.
EDIT: So it begins. Stop giving them ammo.
EDIT 2: What I was afraid of. Blind support for the Maddow segment:
What I think a lot of people don’t understand in their bones is that their perspective might not necessarily be the one that matters. That their take-away might not be the right one. This person apparently saw some juicy info on Russia/Trump that I apparently missed. I must have dozed off for an hour or so…
Overall, this is not how Maddow’s segment will be perceived and perception is what really matters. We are playing fast and loose with facts and logic; convincing people now is all about making them feel the right way, and it’s perilous to not adjust our approach to account for that. We’re witnessing the strength of populism in the digital age, but populist politics have always operated the same way.
It’s people like Gerry and friends here that are just not getting it and probably never will. Don’t let yourself be a Gerry.
EDIT 3: I meet yet another Gerry (who has blocked me):
Politico reported on the ties between Rybolovlev and Trump last year. I am still waiting to hear how anything other than Maddow’s release of the 1040 was at all revelatory. It’s great that people are learning about Trump’s ties to Russia, but people who were convinced by Maddow last night were already opposed to Trump. These are not the people I’m concerned about.
We need hard, actionable evidence and Maddow should be ashamed of how she billed the 1040. We learned nothing new. Full stop.
EDIT 4: The last one before I lose my mind.
David Cay Johnson published a report regarding Trump’s 1040.
In summary: Trump bent a lot of tax laws and used tax-structures that existed at the time to pay fewer taxes. Oh, and there’s nothing in there that specifically details Trump’s connections to Russia: