Tax return drama: Who committed the felony of releasing Trump’s return, Rand Paul attacks Bernie Sanders
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) talked with Bill Hemmer this morning about the release by MSNBC of a few pages of President Trump’s 2005 tax return.
The tax documents showed Trump made $153 million in 2005 and paid $36.5 million in income taxes ($38 million in total taxes).
The big reveal was touted by Rachel Maddow on Twitter before her show, but the documents were far from a bombshell. The real question may be “Who committed the felony?”
“First of all, the release of that tax return is a felony,” Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said Wednesday on Fox News’s “America’s Newsroom.” “They should impanel a grand jury, and they should find out who released it and that person ought to go to jail.”
Gingrich added the two pages of Trump’s 2005 returns circulating in the media show the billionaire is successful and pays his fair share in taxes.
“As a smart, rich person, he uses lawyers and accountants to minimize his tax liability, and yet he still paid 25 percent of his income, which, for a very wealthy person, is a pretty high number,” he said. “He is a remarkably successful guy who has played by the rules.”
“Second, Maddow is fake news, so the fact that she had a fake news hysteria shouldn’t surprise anyone,” Gingrich added of MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
Federal law makes it illegal to publish an unauthorized tax return or “return information.” According to federal statute, any violation of the law “shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.”
That term “return information” not only applies to the amount of taxes paid, but also the amount of income, payments, receipts, deductions and other financial information that could be found on the forms.
If a media organisation (MSNBC, Rachel Maddow) did not conspire to steal the material or get it from the government but simply received it from a private citizen, criminal liability would be less clear.
Meanwhile, the hoopla of Trump NOT paying taxes proved to be nonsense and Paul attacked others for paying less. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) paid an effective tax rate of 13.5 percent a few years ago, far below Trump’s 2005 rate of 25 percent.
“Since Senator Sanders is such a good socialist, I think he’d want to pay his fair share. I’m expecting news any day that he’s gonna send a couple hundred thousand into the IRS so he can pay his fair share,” said Paul.
In 2015, it was revealed that 4 MSNBC hosts are plagued by tax debt. It turns out Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry aren’t the only MSNBC hosts who have outstanding tax debts. The National Review reports that Touré Neblett, the co-host of MSNBC’s The Cycle, owes more than $59,000 in taxes, according to public records.