The Internet Went Absolutely Wild About Trump’s Tax Returns Today; Was It Worth The Hype?

Here's everything you missed.

This morning Rachel Maddow, the host of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, set the internet on fire with one tweet.

This was A. Big. Deal. During the election campaign Trump broke with tradition and became the first major party candidate in 40 years to not release his tax returns. Even when he won the election he stuck to his guns and refused to make his financial details public. Of course, this led people to question what he had to hide. Did he skimp on tax? Is he trying to hide income from unscrupulous sources?

People were very excited.

But just before the show went to air Maddow clarified that the document she had was just one Trump tax return from 2005.

Still, that’s a pretty big deal, particularly if shows up something interesting.

Maddow has a reputation for heavily contextualising her news stories and scoops. Unlike plenty of other journalists, she doesn’t lead with the juicy new info. She takes her time to delve into the background of a story and explain why it matters.

It took Maddow about half an hour before she got to the good stuff. Which was frustrating for a lot of viewers who had tuned it tonight based on her sizzling tweet.

But eventually Maddow brandished the tax returns (after an ad break, of course).

It turns out she had part of Trump’s return from 2005, which showed he paid $38 million in tax on $150 million of income. Which isn’t quite the smoking gun a lot of people were expecting.

Donald Trump’s son even bragged about how the tax returns showed his dad was a good, tax-paying citizen:

During the segment Maddow suggested that the tax returns, which ended up in the mailbox of an investigative journalist who then got in touch with Maddow, could have been leaked by Trump himself!

The suggestion is that Trump leaked the selective tax return from a particular year in order to highlight how he does, in fact, pay his taxes, but also to distract from other political issues like the current battle around healthcare policy.

But we’ll probably never find out who leaked them, or what motivation they had. Ultimately Maddow’s story was pretty underwhelming and failed to live up to the hype. Even Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton’s former press secretary, who tweeted that Maddow might have “the holy grail” conceded it was a non-story.

Everyone hoping to get a glimpse into Trump’s personal financial situation will have to wait a little bit longer.