CNN Mocks MSNBC’s Overhyped Trump-Taxes Exclusive: Not ‘Explosive’

Late Tuesday evening, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow sent out an enticing tweet declaring that she would expose newly authenticated copies of President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns. As her show aired and the White House put out their official statement, it became clear that the hype was much to do about nothing. The revelation that Trump made roughly $150 million and paid $38 million in taxes fell so flat that the panel of Anderson Cooper 360 laughed about how good it made Trump look, with one saying it wasn’t “explosive” at all.

“If all we get tonight is that Donald Trump paid $38 million to America's government, that's a good night for Donald Trump, I'm sorry,” joked Van Jones, host of CNN’s The Messy Truth, “I was hoping and praying that it would show, not only that he paid no taxes, he actually charged the government and got money back. I wanted something I could get excited about.” The rest of the panel laughed seemingly in agreement.

Moderator Anderson Cooper found his own humor in Jones’s comment, noting that Jones wanted was explicit ties between Trump and Russia. “What you wanted was that he was paid in rubles! That’s what you were hoping for,” Cooper quipped to the roaring laughter of his six panelists. “Exactly,” Jones exclaimed with a smile.

CNN commentator Ryan Lizza recalled that, during the election, The New York Times published a story regarding Trump’s 1995 tax returns had shown that his financial loss was so massive he could carry it over for up to 18 years. “And if ten years later he's paying 38 million, and Trump, at the debate, essentially said that that story was right,” he deduced, “This shows maybe that actually he paid more tax than he’s previously admitted to.”

Later on in the program, Trump critic David Gergen noted that the documents only showed that $5 million were from “regular federal income tax returns and the rest was alternative minimum.” But he immediately dumped cold water on the undue hype by MSNBC. “But I must say these returns are tantalizing, but I don't think they're explosive,” he said dismissively, “$38 million on 150 income I don't think it's all that outside of the mainstream.” CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin backed him up, stating that the amount Trump paid was “in the range of average.”

“And for those who are saying Donald Trump is not as wealthy as he claims which may or may not be true, a lot of people are going to hear he made $150 million and say mazel tov,” Cooper continued to kid around, seemingly mocking Maddow who said the same thing, “That’s a great year. I mean, we should all be so unfortunate.”

Cooper then floated the idea “that [Trump] may have released this information himself to get the conversation away from wiretaps.” The idea does have some merit since, as Bloomberg’s national politic reporter Sahil Kapur pointed out on twitter, the copy Maddow released was labeled “Client Copy.” “I think that question has to be taken seriously. The White House was Johnny on the spot with a response on this,” Borger said before concluding that Trump would have tweeted it if it was him.

It’s rather hilarious that the situation had gotten to the point where CNN could openly mock their competitor, especially one sharing a time slot. It’s a whole other matter when a member of NBC’s network umbrella managed to carve off their own pound of flesh. Perhaps Maddow and MSNBC can learn a lesson about playing up a smear campaign. 

Transcript below:

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CNN
Anderson Cooper 360
March 14, 2017
9:06:07 PM Eastern

VAN JONES: Here's the reality. If all we get tonight is that Donald Trump paid $38 million to America's government, that's a good night for Donald Trump, I'm sorry.

[Laughter]

There's just really no way-- I was hoping and praying that it would show, not only that he paid no taxes, he actually charged the government and got money back. I wanted something I could get excited about.

ANDERSON COOPER: What you wanted was that he was paid in rubles!

[Laughter]

That’s what you were hoping for!

JONES: Exactly!

RYAN LIZZA: You know what would be amazing about that, is that when The New York Times got the 1995 taxes, the big headline was $960 million deduction that allows Donald Trump not to pay any taxes for potentially 18 years. And if ten years later he's paying 38 million, and Trump, at the debate, essentially said that that story was right.

PAUL BEGALA: He said that makes me smart.

LIZZA: He said that makes me smart. He was actually bragging.

GLORIA BORGER: Mitt Romney out did him.

LIZZA: This shows maybe that actually he paid more tax than he’s previously admitted to.

9:27:23 PM Eastern

DAVID GERGEN: The Daily Beast, which has seen the document. Has reported just to your [Gloria Borger] point that about 5%, he paid about $5 million on his regular federal income tax returns and the rest was alternative minimum.

BORGER: Which he wants to get rid of.

GERGEN: At adds up to 38. He wants to get rid of it. But I must say these returns are tantalizing, but I don't think they're explosive. From what we've seen so far, $38 million-- Jeffrey [Toobin] and I were talking about this before coming on. In the lives of rich Americans-- and the tax code is often skewed in their favor. $38 million on 150 income I don't think it's all that outside of the mainstream.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Not at all. I mean, you know, in the realm of people who make $150 million, paying $38 million is, at least as I'm familiar with the law, is in the range of average.

COOPER: And for those who are saying Donald Trump is not as wealthy as he claims which may or may not be true, a lot of people are going to hear he made $150 million and say mazel tov. [Possibly quoting Maddow] That’s a great year. I mean, we should all be so unfortunate.

TOOBIN: Every single person will say mazel tov, the whole country. But it's also 2005. I mean, that's a long time ago. I mean, he's had a lot of financial history since then, which we know nothing about.

9:36:04 PM Eastern

COOPER: Gloria, is it possible that, you know, is it possible that Donald Trump released—himself? I mean, you know, this is an idea that's out there, that he may have released this information himself to get the conversation away from wiretaps with the idea that you have Director Comey coming out tomorrow, we are now told, that was our breaking news at the top of the last hour, going to be talking about what if anything the FBI's investigating in a hearing in front of Lindsey Graham's committee.

BORGER: I think that question has to be taken seriously. The White House was Johnny on the spot with a response on this.

CyberAlerts Economy Taxes Conspiracy Theories Covert Liberal Activists Labeling Political Groups Liberals & Democrats Political Scandals CNN Anderson Cooper 360 Video Anderson Cooper Gloria Borger David Gergen Ryan Lizza Rachel Maddow David Cay Johnston Van Jones Donald Trump