Love Rachel Maddow, but when she teased that she had gotten a hold of Donald Trump's tax returns, people expected a lot more than what she actually had.
Maddow, via Trump biographer/investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, had two pages, front and back, of Trump's 2005 1040 form, which revealed he paid $38,435,451 in taxes on income of more than $150 million. Sounds like a lot, but it represented only a 4% payment rather than over 30% it would normally be; The Daily Beast reports the Trumps paid about $31 million in the AMT, a tax Trump wants eliminated.
I am not big on conspiracy theory — at all — and I think people tend to give Trump way too much credit for some of the machinations going on in general. However, he has a history of leaking items to benefit himself, and he also has a history of leaking items to distract.
In this case, because while the returns do raise questions, those questions are above the pay grade of Joe Q. Public, who will think that the guy made a lotta money, paid a lotta taxes and is being persecuted by the publishing of the returns.
In fact, the White House statement on Maddow's action plays the sympathy card:
This has Trump written all over it. Why? Because he doesn't want to talk about Russia and wants to push ahead on denying health care to tens of millions of Americans, many of whom foolishly voted for him and probably therefore deserve to die unaided, but dirty leftists would rather they didn't.
Watch her summary of the returns after the jump ...
Rachel Maddow: "The first amendment gives us the right to publish this return." pic.twitter.com/Jgbu1GRSIk— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 15, 2017
At least Maddow makes a point of questioning why these returns have been released right now.