Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Tonight's big news was a letdown:
Donald Trump earned more than $150 million in the year 2005—and paid just a small percentage of that in regular federal income taxes. Daily Beast contributor David Cay Johnston has obtained what appear to be the first two pages of Trump’s 2005 federal income tax return, and published an analysis of those pages on his website, DCReport.org....

The documents show Trump and his wife Melania paying $5.3 million in regular federal income tax—a rate of less than 4% However, the Trumps paid an additional $31 million in the “alternative minimum tax,” or AMT. Trump has previously called for the elimination of this tax.
Rachel Maddow featured the return on her show tonight, but the numbers are ... unremarkable. Sure, Trump's tax rate before the application of the AMT was very low, but the AMT brought it up to a reasonable level.

Paul Waldman expressed his suspicions early:

And, I'd say, to distract from a week full of bad news. And to try to make the publication of the 1040 into the story. If the theory is correct, this was basically entrapment. Johnston and Maddow revealed this information and Trump is now going to rail against the media again, while his coat-holders in the conservative press hint at sinister conspiracies to destroy his presidency. (Somebody's going to say that the "Obama shadow government" leaked the 1040, although no one will explain why this one was leaked and not a more incriminating one -- or why the 1040 was leaked and not supporting forms and schedules that might help explain what really goes on financially in Trump World.)

On Maddow's show, even Johnston himself suggested that Trump might have been the leaker.

This is a great distraction from a lot of troubling recent developments for Trump and the GOP. The Congressional Budget Office score for the GOP health care bill was released yesterday, and on Thursday the bill could conceivably die:
The much-maligned Obamacare replacement bill will face its biggest test so far on Thursday, as a House of Representatives committee filled with conservatives could derail the legislation backed by Speaker Paul Ryan before it gets to the House floor.

If four Republicans join Democrats in voting against the bill in the House Budget Committee, the legislation will fail.
And then there's this:
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said Tuesday that FBI Director James Comey promised to tell him Wednesday whether the FBI is investigating ties between Russia and the campaign of President Donald Trump.

The Rhode Island Democrat said that Comey made the promise in a March 2 meeting with him and Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.

According to Whitehouse, Comey assured them he would confirm if an investigation exists "and the scope of their Russia/Trump investigation because he had not been able to at that point say that there was one."
Will that be the lead story tomorrow? After this, it might not be. Mission accomplished?

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