An excerpt of President Donald Trump's tax returns from 2005 were released, but didn't show much other than that the former businessman paid his legal requirement in taxes that year.
MSNBC's Rachel Maddow enticed viewers, both fans and detractors like, before releasing the material, which shows the first two pages of Trump's 2005 tax returns. But opponents of the president weren't given a great deal of ammunition, as the pages showed that Trump paid nearly $40 million in taxes on earnings of about $150 million.
"Thank you Rachel Maddow for proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful [he] is & that he paid $40mm in taxes!" Donald Trump Jr. wrote on Twitter.
And even before the Maddow segment aired on MSNBC, the White House released a statement that appeared to gloat about what was shown in the tax returns, but also condemned their publication, which they described as illegal, according to CNBC:
Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required. That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that. 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 release of Trump's tax returns that appear to show him in a positive light led some to believe that Trump himself might have leaked the information.
In fact, investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who first received the tax returns in question, told Maddow that it wouldn't be out of the question for Trump to have released the 2005 returns himself.
"By the way, let me point out that it's entirely possible that Donald Trump sent this to me. Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things," said Johnston, who wrote a book about Trump.
Democrats, meanwhile, jumped on the opportunity to bring Trump's tax return issue back into the media spotlight and continue to push its unsubstantiated narrative that Russia is blackmailing Trump.
"If they can release some of the information, they can release all of the information," Zac Petkanas, a senior adviser to the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement, according to The New York Times. "The only reason not to release his returns is to hide what’s in them, such as financial connections with Russian oligarchs and the Kremlin."