It didn’t take long for the hosts of The View to ask their guest Rachel Maddow a question that Jimmy Fallon failed to broach when he sat down with the MSNBC host a week ago to talk about her big “scoop” on President Trump’s tax returns.
“Some say Trump leaked those himself in order to distract from other things,” co-host Sara Haines suggested about one minute into Maddow’s appearance on Wednesday, adding that the returns themselves were not that “damning” for the president. “Do you think that could have come from Trump?” she asked.
“It totally could have come from Trump,” Maddow admitted. “As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that matters is, is that document real? That’s the story.” Later, she added, “We have no idea where it came from. It very well might have come from the president himself.”
“We know he gave them to you,” Joy Behar chimed in, bluntly, “because otherwise there would be more pages with real information on them.”
Maddow said the first thought that went through her head when Daily Beast contributor David Cay Johnston approached her with the first two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return was, “Don’t get pranked.”
“Obviously there’s such appetite to learn about his tax returns,” Maddow said. “He’s the only president in 40 years that we don’t have his financial information, and simultaneously with that we have this increasing knowledge about his weird overseas ties in terms of people on his campaign.” She added, “It’s the perfect environment to prank somebody.”
Maddow explained that her team spent 36 hours trying to get the White House to confirm the document’s veracity, which helps explain why the Trump administration was able to get out its own statement about the returns before she revealed the details 22 minutes into her primetime ratings bonanza.
As co-host Sunny Hostin pointed out, Trump called Maddow’s release “FAKE NEWS!” on Twitter, while his son, Donald Jr. actually thanked Maddow for “proving to your #Trump hating followers how successful @realDonaldTrump is & that he paid $40mm in taxes!”
“My favorite thing about those two things together is like, OK, it’s an amazing release of his tax information that shows he’s super rich and paid a ton of money in taxes, it’s real and great,” Maddow said of the tweets. “Also, it’s fake! And it’s illegal for you to publish them.”
She added, “I’m happy to absorb either of those punishments from the family. But both of them?! It’s either fake or it’s real and you guys have to pick one.”
In a later segment, Maddow also addressed the bigger news of the day in Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, making a strong case for why Democrats should do everything in their power to keep Trump’s nominee off the bench.
“The elephant in the room here in the Gorsuch nomination is that President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for that seat when he still had a year in office,” Maddow said. “And the Republican objection to even meeting with him, let alone holding a hearing was that President Obama’s only going to be president for another year.”
With the FBI investigating whether or not President Trump and his campaign “colluded with a foreign power in their attack on the United States,” Maddow said it’s “weird to let that person make a lifelong appointment to the Supreme Court.”
Even former Fox News contributor-turned-View-co-host Jedediah Bila could agree with Maddow on that argument. “I don’t understand how you can justify having this investigation go on with the commander-in-chief and at the same time have this nomination go through,” she said.
Or, as moderator Whoopi Goldberg put it, “People need to get up. People need to do something!”