Trump's First 100 days

Former Syracuse University College of Law lecturer breaks Trump tax return news

Jensen Stidham | Contributing Photographer

David Cay Johnston, an investigative financial reporter and founder of, obtained President Donald Trump's federal tax returns from 2005. Trump paid $36.6 million in federal tax return in 2008.

UPDATED March 15, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who revealed one of President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Tuesday night is a former lecturer at Syracuse University’s College of Law.

David Cay Johnston, an investigative journalist and founder of, obtained Trump’s 2005 1040 tax form. Appearing on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” Johnston revealed that Trump earned more than $150 million in income in 2005 and paid about $36 million in income tax that year.

Johnston taught business regulation, property and tax law of the ancient world at SU’s College of Law starting in 2009, according to his personal webpage, but left the college in the fall.

The White House also announced Trump paid $38 million in federal income taxes and called releasing the tax return as illegal in a statement released just before Maddow went on the air.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, said in January that Trump is going to release his tax returns after being audited, one day after she told ABC’s “This Week” Trump would not release his tax return, according to Politico.

The New York Times previously obtained Trump’s 1995 tax returns, revealing that he claimed a $916 million tax loss that year, which made him qualify for not paying any federal income tax for up to 18 years without legal penalty.

More than 1 million people have signed a petition on demanding Trump to publish his tax returns.

Johnston, the former SU law lecturer, previously taught at the University of Southern California and UCLA Extension and has served as a consultant for the popular political drama “House of Cards” on Netflix, according to his personal webpage.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, David Cay Johnston’s relationship with Syracuse University was misstated. Johnston is a former lecturer in SU’s College of Law.


Top Stories