(NationalSentinel) Scandal: Lawyers for President Donald J. Trump are looking into possible legal action against persons alleged to have leaked the president’s 2005 tax returns to investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who then turned them over to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.
According to Fox Business Network, the Trump legal team would allege a felony violation of U.S. law that prevents unauthorized release of a person’s tax returns. But the effort might not go anywhere:
Legal experts say any case would be a long-shot given First Amendment protections for journalists and an important Supreme Court precedent that dates back to the famous 1971 “Pentagon Papers” case. Trump would also have to show that the journalists were complicit in stealing his tax returns—which both Johnston and Maddow have denied.
“Trump’s lawyers could try and sue but they will get the crap kicked out of them in court,” said veteran white collar attorney Stanley Arkin. “It’s the First Amendment. What are they going to sue them for? Stealing the returns? Nobody made any money out of it. Nobody was bribed.”
[We don’t know that yet, Mr. Arkin – do we?]
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In a statement, MSNBC told FOX Business: “There is no legal prohibition against journalists publishing these tax returns. It is protected by the First Amendment and Supreme Court precedent. (RELATED: The Trump tax revelation – that wasn’t)
But then, how does this comport with the law, “26 U.S. Code § 6103 – Confidentiality and disclosure of returns and return information?” It says that no “officer or employee” of federal or state governments may leak the forms – it doesn’t say anything about the publication of leaked forms.
So this really comes down to who provided Johnston with the returns, not whether they were published and by whom. If they were leaked by someone at the IRS, for example, that’s a no-no.
It’s not that Maddow had some scoop with these returns; all they did was prove that Trump, indeed, is very wealthy and he paid a lot of taxes that year ($38 million on $150 million in income, both big numbers). But the idea that it’s okay to treat this president with somewhat less respect and decorum than, say, the last president (who wouldn’t release his college transcripts, if you recall) is appalling.