David Cay Johnston, the investigative reporter who received two pages of President Donald Trump‘s 2005 tax returns and shared them on The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday night, suggested that it’s “entirely possible” that the documents came directly from the Trump administration.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist said that he anonymously received Trump’s tax returns from 2005, which revealed that the president paid $38 million in federal income taxes on a reported income of $150 million in 2005, in the mail on Monday.
“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,” Johnston said.
Johnston, the founder of DCReport.org, added, “Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it’s in his interest.”
Backing up this speculation, the documents have a visible stamp that reads “Client Copy” on the second page of the 1040 tax forms. Johnston said that points to someone in the president’s camp leaking the information.
Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to slam the claims as “fake news.”
“Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, ‘went to his mailbox’ and found my tax returns?” he wrote. “FAKE NEWS!”
Johnston fired back, “Gee, Donald, your White House confirmed my story. POTUS fake Tweet. Sad!”
The White House also condemned the leak of the tax return as a “desperate” attempt for ratings, with an official saying it was illegal for Maddow to release the president’s tax returns, according to CNBC. The statement, released ahead of Maddow’s broadcast, confirmed the authenticity of the documents.
“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.”
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Trump has battled claims that he leaked information about himself before. Amid his divorce from wife Ivana Trump and eventual engagement to Marla Maples in the early ’90s, Trump admitted to making at least one call pretending to be a publicist named John Miller.
Then-PEOPLE reporter Sue Carswell interviewed “Miller,” later playing the tape for Maples. Maples identified the voice to Carswell as Trump’s.
In response, Trump told PEOPLE that Miller was a joke gone awry, explaining, “What I did became a good time at Marla’s expense, and I’m very sorry.”
More recently, however, Trump adamantly denied ever posing as his own spokesperson.
This also isn’t the first time Trump’s personal records have mysteriously ended up in the hands of journalists. In October, The New York Times reporter Susanne Craig was sent an envelope from the Trump Organization containing the business mogul’s 1995 state tax returns for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The New York Daily News also received Trump’s tax returns in the mail around the same time but were unable to verify the documents.
“Why did the tipster send the documents to me, out of all the reporters out there? Probably because I wrote an exhaustive examination of Mr. Trump’s $650 million of debt in August that drew millions of readers,”Craig wrote.