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President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool Image via AP)

Trump dismissed a reporter's suggestion that he leaked his own tax return as 'fake news'


Hours after part of his 2005 tax returns were revealed on MSNBC, President Trump rejected rumors that he may have leaked the returns himself.

Trump called the reporter who unveiled the returns, David Cay Johnston, someone "who nobody ever heard of," and called NBC News "fake news." NBC is MSNBC's parent company.

Johnston said it was "entirely possible" that Trump sent him his tax returns during his appearance on "The Rachel Maddow Show," since "Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things."

Donald has a long history of leaking material about himself when he thinks it's in his interest.
David Cay Johnston

The portion of the 2005 tax return revealed Trump reported $150 million in income and paid $38 million in taxes. The White House's statement on the matter supported the returns revealed by Johnston. 

The White House statement harshly criticized the story, saying it was "illegal to steal and publish tax returns."

Trump casino.jpg
** FILE ** In this June 7, 1995 file photograph, Donald Trump is seen above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange after taking his flagship Trump Plaza Casino public in New York City. Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., based in Atlantic City, New Jersey, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey. Trump and his daughter Ivanka resigned from the company's board Friday, Feb. 13, 2009, after growing frustrated with bondholders. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens,File)

Trump has been known to play the role of an anonymous source to share information about himself. He once assumed the names "John Miller" and "John Barron" to hype himself up to reporters. 

Here's Johnston's take.

Johnston did not go so far as to say Trump had actually mailed him the returns, but said it was "in the list of possibilities of where it came from." 

He also refuted the White House's claim that he had acted illegally.

"There's absolutely nothing improper about journalists, if you haven't solicited something, getting it over the transom," Johnston said.

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