26 U.S. Code § 7213 – Unauthorized disclosure of information
(a) Returns and return information
(3) Other persons
It shall be unlawful for any person to whom any return or return information (as defined in section 6103(b)) is disclosed in a manner unauthorized by this title thereafter willfully to print or publish in any manner not provided by law any such return or return information. Any violation of this paragraph shall be a felony punishable by a fine in any amount not exceeding $5,000, or imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or both, together with the costs of prosecution.
And just to be clear, it’s irrelevant that she’s media. The NYT refrained from publishing Trump’s tax return in October last year because it would be a felony.
The White House warned Maddow not to release the documents, as doing so is illegal!
Basically, Trump chose not to pursue legal action. NYT knew it was illegal, but published anyway. They were called on it and claimed “vital public interest” defense and got 10 liberal lawyers to agree that the defense had merit. It went no further.
It’s described here:
Trump could still pursue it.
You have to understand, the White House did not release Trump’s tax return. They released a statement which indicated roughly how much he earned and how much he paid in tax. That doesn’t constitute making a tax return public.
The issue isn’t that Trump told people how much he made. It’s that Maddow released the tax return.
More to the point, Maddow addressed Trump’s statement live on the air. She said: “For the record, the First Amendment gives us the right to publish this return,” she said. “It’s not illegally published. Nor are we fake. Pinch me, I’m real.”
For the record, the First Amendment DOES NOT give you the right to publish a tax return. I’ve quoted the article of the US Code that covers disclosure, and she clearly committed a felony. The issue isn’t that she told people how much he made and paid in tax – it’s that she released his tax return, something the White House didn’t do.
Dear Rachel @maddow,
Thank you for your Epic Fail on President Trump's taxes.
I needed a good laugh! pic.twitter.com/kutJ8XPRpn
— Mark "Beto" Pantano (@TheMarkPantano) March 15, 2017