Trump says "nobody ever heard" of David Cay Johnston. Johnston says Trump called his home.
President Donald Trump was in his feelings again Wednesday morning, tweeting derisively about David Cay Johnston, the journalist who published two pages of Trump's 2005 tax return Tuesday after allegedly finding them in his mailbox.
"Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, 'went to his mailbox' and found my tax returns?" Trump tweeted. "FAKE NEWS!"
But despite Trump's claim, Johnston was candid in a September interview with Democracy Now! about at least one person who had heard of him: Donald Trump. In fact, Johnston claimed, Trump had called his house multiple times to talk about stories Johnston had written.
"I wrote a piece for Politico magazine back in April about all of Donald Trump's connections," Johnston told host Amy Goodman in the interview. "And Donald finally called me. He's had my home number for years. He's called me at home in the past. And he said to me, 'Well, you know, you've written a lot of things I like. But if I don't like what you're writing, I'm going to sue you.'"
If this story is true, it undercuts Trump's claim. It suggests that not only have people heard of David Cay Johnston — a Pulitzer Prize winner — but that Trump has heard of him, and contacted him, personally. Johnston has reported on Trump's business dealings for years, and wrote the 2016 book The Making of Donald Trump. The president is notoriously sensitive about how the media covers him. The White House did not respond to Mic's request for comment.
In his Wednesday tweet, Trump was referring to Johnston's claim that he found the president's tax returns in his mailbox, after months of controversy surrounding the president's refusal to make his returns public. Johnston also speculated on The Rachel Maddow Show Tuesday that Trump might have sent the returns to Johnston, presumably as a publicity move.
"It's entirely possible that Donald Trump sent this to me," Johnston told host Rachel Maddow. "Donald Trump has, over the years, leaked all sorts of things."
The White House denies this claim, saying Johnston and MSNBC broke the law in obtaining and publishing the returns. But the fact that Trump's tax leak took the form of a two-page client copy from a year that showed Trump paying an especially high amount in taxes suggests that Trump stood to lose little in sharing his 2005 returns.