When MSNBC's Rachel Maddow announced that she would be revealing President Donald Trump's 2005 tax return Tuesday night, many liberals anticipated the documents would show that Trump isn't as rich as he says he is, that he paid little to no federal income tax or that his companies have significant business dealings in Russia.
But none of that came to fruition. In fact, the documents, which consisted of two pages of the full return, revealed only that in 2005 Trump's income was more than $150 million and that he paid $38 million in federal income taxes. The $38 million was on top of “paying tens of millions of dollars in other taxes such as sales and excise taxes and employment taxes,” according to one White House official.
Even liberal CNN commentator Van Jones, who previously served as an adviser to former President Barack Obama, admitted the Democrats no longer had a credible case.
"If all we get tonight," Jones said, "is that Donald Trump paid $38 million to America's government, that's a good night for Trump." He continued:
I'm sorry, there's just really no way to — I was hoping and praying it would show that not only did he pay no taxes, he actually charged the government and got money back. I wanted something I could get excited about.
CNN host Anderson Cooper then said, jokingly, "What you wanted was that he was paid in [Russian] Rubles."
— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) March 15, 2017
It wasn't just Jones who acknowledged Tuesday night that what Democrats had been suggesting for months simply wasn't true.
Brian Fallon, former Hillary Clinton campaign press secretary, urged his fellow Democrats to "not get distracted by two pages" of Trump's 2005 tax return.
"Dems should return focus to Trumpcare tomorrow & the millions it will leave uninsured," Fallon tweeted.
Despite the fact that the tax documents contained no politically damaging information, the president denied Wednesday morning that his administration released the documents to distract attention from Republican infighting over the proposed Obamacare replacement plan or the White House's inability, thus far, to produce evidence backing up Trump's claim that former President Barack Obama ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.