The entirety of Tuesday night was eclipsed by MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and her claim of a major scoop regarding “Trump tax returns.” Folks waited in popcorn-filled anticipation for the fabled Trump taxes, which he declined to release despite a decades-long candidate tradition of doing so. Even after Trump was elected, his opponents hoped that perhaps — just maybe — these returns would surface and reveal those pesky Russian-Trump ties that already run through significant areas of his administration.
What did Maddow’s report ultimately show? Unfortunately, nothing of much significance. This left people wondering what the big tease was all about. Fox News’ Geraldo Rivera (and former SNL star Norm MacDonald, along with many others) suspected that Trump planted pages of his 1040A because they made him look … sorta good? Like he paid taxes, at least.
And speaking of Geraldo …. there were lots of vault jokes like this on Twitter.
Technically, Maddow lived up to her word while producing tax-return documents. Yet she promised a bombshell and delivered a deflated balloon, which included a few pages of Trump’s 2005 1040A document. The New York Times previously reported that Trump had suffered a $916 million loss in 1995, which produced a tax credit that possibly helped him avoid federal taxes. Yet Maddow showed — with the help of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston — that Trump paid an alternative minimum tax that included $31 million of the $38 million he paid in total for 2005.
This information, which Trump somewhat confirmed in a White House response, may have worked in his favor (other than the embarrassment of Trump only earning about $150 million in one year, rather than billions). And from the left to right sides of the political spectrum, cable news hosts agreed that nothing in these few pages incriminated Trump in any way. As CNN’s Don Lemon put it: “There’s nothing in here that’s bad for the president.”
Yes, that’s CNN, which Trump regularly describes as “fake news.” Whereas Fox News’ Sean Hannity had an old-fashioned rage fest during his show while describing Maddow’s episode as part of a “corporate jihad” against Trump. Still, Hannity was very amused on Twitter.
Hannity also tweeted amazement at how he agreed with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Van Jones on this issue.
Indeed, Cooper tweeted this video of Van Jones calling this a “good night” for Trump, which may as well be a Coop endorsement.
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) March 15, 2017
Meanwhile, perhaps Donald Trump Jr. — the proud peddler of awful candy-refugee metaphors — was the happiest person on Twitter last night.