Remember about 30 years ago when there was all kinds of hoopla surrounding a syndicated TV special hosted by Geraldo Rivera that promised to unveil the secrets of Al Capone’s vault?
Rivera speculated that perhaps the notorious gangster had stashed loot in the vault at the Lexington Hotel in Chicago and, who knows, there might even be a corpse or two in there.
The reality, as those who watched the debacle know, was much different. There was some dirt in there, and a few empty bottles. Much was promised, and not much was delivered.
Many folks no doubt had the same reaction Tuesday night regarding a not-so-big reveal of a smidgen of Donald Trump’s tax papers.
We had reason to expect more. On Twitter about 7:30 that night, MSNBC talk show host Rachel Maddow said, “BREAKING: We’ve got Trump tax returns. Tonight, 9pm ET MSNBC.”
Uh, not really. What Maddow had, courtesy of Pulitzer-winning journalist David Cay Johnston, were two pages of Trump’s federal tax return from way back in 2005. That would be “return,” singular.
And if anyone was expecting to find out much from these two pages, they were sorely disappointed. They revealed that Trump had income of $153 million that year and paid federal taxes of $38 million, including Medicare and Social Security levies.
The White House issued a statement calling the publication of the president’s tax records “totally illegal,” but the Trump administration didn’t really seem to be all that miffed about the information seeing the light of day.
The disclosure that the president paid $38 million would appear to refute the suggestion by Democrats during last year’s election campaign that perhaps Trump didn’t pay any taxes during that period.
As the Washington Post noted in a story Wednesday, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said of Trump during one of the presidential debates, “Maybe he doesn’t want the American people – all of you watching tonight – to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes.”
After Tuesday night’s Maddow show, 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’s show aside, this issue will not, and should not, go away.
A few years back, when he was still mulling a run for the White House, Trump Sr. said he most assuredly would release his tax returns if he decided to throw his hat in the ring. But during the presidential campaign, he claimed he couldn’t release his taxes because he was under an active audit. That simply wasn’t true. He then claimed he’d release the taxes if he became president. Now, the message coming from the White House is there’s no need to provide the information because the only people who care about seeing the president’s tax returns are reporters. As with the claim about the audit, that’s a falsehood. There are plenty of Americas – millions, we believe – who are very much interested in finding out about the past financial dealings of the man living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Trump has been questioned repeatedly about what ties he might have to the Russian government and that country’s business entities. We would suggest if a person stands accused of being in bed with the Russians, it would benefit him to make public any and all information – including tax returns – that might serve to refute such allegations.