Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski offered a ringing defense of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s effort to avoid paying taxes on today’s Morning Joe, declaring that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had similarly “made a lot of money” from speeches to banks and that the difference is “she hides it. Donald Trump just doesn’t hide it.” At one point she said, “What’s the difference?” and asked whether “anybody want[s] to explain [it] to me.” Here’s the difference.
We know in excruciating detail how much Hillary and Bill Clinton were paid for giving speeches, who they gave them to, and when, because all of that information was released in federal financial disclosures Hillary Clinton has made over the years. We also have a full picture of their tax status because the Clintons have released decades of returns.
We know remarkably little about how much Trump pays in taxes, what his income is, what types of deductions he takes, and how the amount he pays in taxes would be impacted by his tax proposals. That’s because Trump has refused to release any tax returns, breaking decades of tradition. The only reason we know that Trump took a $916 million loss in 1995 that he could have used to wipe out nearly two decades of income tax payments is because someone sent three pages from Trump’s 1995 tax records to The New York Times.
During the same segment, co-host Joe Scarborough said, “This tax thing, I'm sorry, this tax thing, please, find me one person that pays more taxes than they have to pay. You can't do it. So everybody that's acting so shocked that he did what he was legally entitled to do is a freaking hypocrite.” In fact, the Clintons have paid more in taxes than they could have.
Media figures frequently refuse to Clinton give credit for the voluminous disclosures she has made -- disclosures that leave her vulnerable to criticism on issues like paid speeches -- while downplaying Trump’s historic lack of transparency.