Rachel Maddow made a few headlines saying she had some of Trump’s old taxes. Immediately the White House released the relevant information that she had, and she was forced to say her big scoop was no deal at all. This is as much of a nonstory as we’re going to get out of this administration, so naturally let’s over analyze it for all its worth, and then some.
The real question, to me, is who released the taxes. A journalist doesn’t just stumble across these. They need to be made available, by either someone incompetently leaving them lying around, or simply handed to the journalist. Even if this was a particularly devious journalist in question, with the skills of a cat burglar and the tastes of an accountant, why just a few pages of taxes more than a decade old? What journalist would be so incompetent to steal these, then publish them? No, it had to be someone with access. But who?
An IRS employee is one option. I almost immediately reject that, because why release a useless piece when you have access to the whole? I don’t care if you love or hate Trump, these releases don’t say much about him at all. They do say a bit, honestly if he was the billionaire he said he was then his income seemed low to me, particularly as this was the first year of the Apprentice, where he would have made millions. More about that later. At any rate, this feels too creative for the IRS. I very much doubt that career federal accountants would come up with an idea like this.
The next possibility is one of Trump’s personal accountants. This is a bit more possible. If you’re the type of person who’s attracted to doing absurdly complex taxes for a clown then you may very well want to throw a monkey wrench into the system, just to see what would happen. I doubt this as well, though. If this was released by one of his accountants, it would be reasonably easy to see which one. I doubt he’s using more than one accounting firm, so he should at least be able to narrow down which company released it. It would take a pretty short-sighted accountant to want to draw the ire of the president of the United States.
So that leaves someone close to Trump personally. A family member or a trusted aide. Or Trump himself. I lean towards Trump himself. Let’s look a little closer at those returns. First question, why 2005? As I mentioned, this is the first year of the successful show the Apprentice. This is the show that took him from tabloid fodder to a national figure taken seriously as a businessman. He made a lot of money off of it. I suspect the reason we saw 2005 and not 2004 is that 2004 would have shown a lot less income. Certainly not the income of a billionaire. Trump has been very vocal about his wealth. I think he even sued someone for saying that he was merely a millionaire. He wants to show his income in a good light, so naturally he picks a year of plenty. He even paid some taxes this year, so it portrays that in a good light as well.
This strikes me as a very Trumpy move. Release something to your enemies they want because they think it’ll reflect badly on you, but choose the part that shows you in a vaguely good light. Then you get to both rage against your enemies and bask in the light of your wealth. Honestly, this is probably one of his smarter moves since he took the oath of office.