By James Hibberd
March 14, 2017 at 07:59 PM EDT
Heidi Gutman/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla; Getty Images

Rachel Maddow has a copy of Donald Trump’s tax returns.

The MSNBC host announced the news and then added a “seriously” — as if she knew we’d be immediately skeptical of anybody claiming they found these long-sought documents. The tweet suggested the tax returns would be revealed tonight on MSNBC at 9 p.m. ET.

In terms of political scoops, this event could like opening the political Ark of the Covenant — or Al Capone’s bust of a vault.

UPDATE: Maddow has now clarified the tax returns are only from one year — 2005.

The president has long bucked political tradition by adamantly refusing to release his federal income tax returns, prompting enormous speculation as to their contents — particularly in light of claims that he hasn’t been forthcoming about his business ties with Russia and revelations of previously undisclosed communications between the Trump camp and Russian insiders.

During the campaign, Trump’s taxes from one year (1995) somehow leaked which showed he lost nearly a billion dollars that year. Still, the embarrassing revelation wasn’t nearly enough to derail his campaign.

If the tweet is accurate and MSNBC has obtained a year of Trump’s taxes, another question aside from their contents will be how the network got the government records, which have remained private and sealed despite huge public and media interest.

Another potential outcome is if 2005 does not contain some kind of smoking gun tax revelation, then the news could potentially help Trump — like “See? There was nothing there.”

Meanwhile, the White House has issued the following statement, according to several outlets:

You know you are desperate for ratings when you are willing to violate the law to push a story about two pages of tax returns from over a decade ago.

Before being elected President, Mr. Trump was one of the most successful businessmen in the world with a responsibility to his company, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required. That being said, Mr. Trump paid $38 million dollars even after taking into account large scale depreciation for construction, on an income of more than $150 million dollars, as well as paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes and this illegally published return proves just that. Despite this substantial income figure and tax paid, it is totally illegal to steal and publish tax returns. The dishonest media can continue to make this part of their agenda, while the President will focus on his, which includes tax reform that will benefit all Americans.

Veteran tax reporter and Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist David Cay Johnston, who is now the editor/founder of DCReport.org, revealed those same details on Maddow’s show Tuesday night. Johnston says he received the document “in the mail over the transom,” sender unknown, and the returns do not indicate the sources of Trump’s income.

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