Someone with access to all or parts of President Donald Trump’s tax returns wants them made public. But who?
Tuesday’s disclosure of two pages from Trump’s 2005 federal returns marked the second time in the last seven months that portions of Trump’s tax filings have been leaked to reporters.
In October, The New York Times published a story based on a leaked portion of Trump’s 1995 state tax returns in multiple states, showing that he declared a massive $916 million loss that year that could have enabled him to avoid paying federal income taxes for nearly two decades. And on Tuesday, investigative reporter David Cay Johnston unveiled some details of Trump’s 2005 federal income tax return on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show.”
Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to release his tax returns, but has repeatedly refused to do so, citing an IRS audit he has yet to show proof of.
Here’s what we know about how the leaks happened and what they tell us about who the leaker — or leakers — might be:
- New York Times Reporter Susanne Craig received an envelope containing Trump’s 1995 state tax returns for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut in the mail at her Times office last fall.
- “It came from just an address at the Trump Tower. It was anonymous,” Craig told Maddow after her scoop on October 1. “We were left with a lot of questions when we opened that envelope.”
- The documents were the first page of Trump’s New York State resident return, the first page of his Connecticut non-resident return and the first page of his New Jersey non-resident return.
- The paper, which said it did nothing illegal, showed the tax records to Trump’s 80-year-old retired longtime accountant, who said they appeared to be authentic.
- The New York Daily News had also received Trump’s tax returns in the mail on September 23, around the same time as The Times.
- The records were sent to then-Daily News editor-in-chief Jim Rich, according to CNN.
- However, the Daily News — noted at the time for its harsh anti-Trump coverage — was unable to verify the documents. “We received [the documents] around the same time… but were unable to track down the preparer or verify the veracity of the documents through other attempts,” a Daily News source told CNNMoney.
- When the paper published a story about Trump’s taxes, it attributed the information to The Times, but also noted that the Daily News had obtained the documents.
- While there are obvious similarities in the way the records were leaked to The Times, Daily News and Johnston, it is not known of the same person is behind the disclosures.
- In the most recent leak, Johnston, a former reporter for The Times and tax expert, said he received the 2005 filing in his mailbox. “It came in the mail, over the transom,” he said.
- Johnston, who runs the dcreport.org website, told the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that the plain envelope containing the returns, which arrived at his house in New York on Monday, was postmarked in Westchester, N.Y.
- Maddow suggested that more tax information about Trump will be leaked.
- In its story about the 2005 tax returns, published Tuesday night, The Times notes few people outside of a small group close to Trump have seen his tax returns. The paper goes on to write, “One person who has is Timothy L. O’Brien, another former Times reporter, whom Mr. Trump sued for libel after Mr. O’Brien published a book that argued that Mr. Trump’s net worth was $150 million to $250 million, rather than several billion dollars, as Mr. Trump had claimed. The suit was ultimately dismissed.”
- Appearing on MSBNC with Maddow on Tuesday night, Johnston speculated that Trump might have leaked the 2005 returns himself.
- “Let me point out, it’s entirely possible that Donald sent this to me,” Johnston told Maddow, saying he had done nothing illegal. “Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things.”
- On Wednesday, Johnston suggested during an appearance on MSNBC that Trump may not have leaked the returns because he seemed to be so angry that they had been made public.