Nobody knows who leaked two pages of President Donald Trump's 2005 tax return to the press, but the journalist who broke the story and personally received the document in his mailbox believes it might have been Trump himself.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston told CNN's Poppy Harlow that he wouldn't be surprised if Trump had leaked the return himself. The document was labeled as a "client copy" on the second page.
"Donald has a long history of leaking things about himself and doing it indirectly and directly," Johnston explained. "So it's a possibility."
The White House released a statement before the returns were made public on March 14 on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show," disclosing the information presented in the return as a way to get out ahead of the story. Trump himself tweeted about the bombshell the next morning.
"Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, 'went to his mailbox' and found my tax returns? [NBC News] FAKE NEWS!" he wrote.
Not much was learned from the documents aside from the fact that Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes on a $150 million income in 2005, which would mean his tax rate was 25 percent. But it did show he wrote off $100 million in losses, which likely saved him millions of dollars.
"Trump’s return shows that he’s pushing tax changes that benefit multimillionaire heirs like him, not the middle class," Lily Batchelder, a tax law professor at New York University, told The New York Times. "His proposal to repeal the [Alternative Minimum Tax] would have slashed his own tax burden by $31 million, and his income tax rate would be lower than the average rate paid by families earning $75,000 to $100,000."
In its statement, the White House criticized Maddow and MSNBC for publicizing the returns and called the act illegal, although many pointed out that the First Amendment allows for such documents to be made public.
"You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago," the White House's statement read. "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."
Following the publicizing of the return, many called on the White House to be more transparent about the president's finances, as it would help dispel fears and theories about ties to Russia.
"If they can release some of the information, they can release all of the information," Democratic National Committee senior adviser Zac Petkanas said in a statement. "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."