In response to MSNBC’s scoop of Rachel Maddow having Trump’s tax returns, the White House issued a statement regarding the release of the 2005 tax information.
Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.”
The White House backed its position by citing a federal law that spells out the potential punishment for releasing confidential tax information.
It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by the title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.”
According to this:
Legal analysts have a general consensus that it is clearly illegal to steal and publish such tax information, or for the IRS to release it without permission. However, some legal experts contend if the information arrives unsolicited from an unknown source, then the entity or individual publishing it would likely be protected under the First Amendment.
During the course of the broadcast, Maddow confirmed that she had received copies of the 2005 tax return from Daily Beast reporter David Cay Johnston, a long-time Trump nemesis. Johnston in turn asserted the copies just showed up in his mailbox. He made the absurd claim that perhaps the return was leaked deliberately by President Trump.
Maddow critics now are skewering her for creating a fiasco along the lines of Geraldo Rivera’s legendary flop with Al Capone’s secret vault. Even Geraldo is laughing at her.
The beleaguered MSNBC host revealed the tax return information after a rambling 20-minute monologue interwoven with bizarre conspiracy theories about Trump’s relationship with Russian oligarchs, Florida real estate, Deutsche Bank and Preet Bharara as reasons why Mr. Trump hadn’t released his tax returns.
The real beneficiary of the program was President Trump, who was shown to have paid taxes at a rate of about 25%, much higher than those of Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, and Comcast, the company that owns MSNBC. It totally demolished claims by hard-left Democrats that Trump did not pay any taxes and that’s why he hasn’t released his returns.
The story was yet another demonstration of the media’s unrelenting drive to generate “fake news” to discredit the President and undermine his presidency.
Maddow struggled defend herself in the face of criticism and mockery. It remains to be seen if Maddow will face any legal consequences though.