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Monday, March 6, 2017

NYT's Nick Kristof Urges IRS Employees To Illegally Leak Trump's Tax Return

On Sunday evening, the New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristoff urged IRS employees Sunday to break the law, and leak Donald Trump’s tax returns to his publication: “If you’re in IRS and have a certain president’s tax return that you’d like to leak, my address is: NYT, 620 Eighth Ave, NY NY 10018,” Nicholas Kristof wrote on Twitter.

As the Hill reminds us, the release of an individual's unauthorized tax returns is a felony. While reporters who publish illegally obtained information that they did not solicit are traditionally not prosecuted - recall that in September 2016 the NYT released an old Trump tax return without legal consequences-  the legal picture becomes less clear if the reporters are involved in the leaking of the information.

On this issue, the U.S. code on unauthorized disclosure of information states quite clearly that "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.

A veteran NYT reporter, the Harvard-educated Kristof has covered global affairs for the NYT since 2001. Last September before the election, the Times was sent Trump's 1995 tax documents anonymously. After verification, the paper printed the documents in full a few days later.  

Shortly thereafter, Trump’s attorney sent a letter to the paper's editors stating that publishing the tax documents was “illegal” because "Mr. Trump has not authorized the disclosure of any of his tax returns.”  

New York Times editor Dean Baquet had stated publicly earlier in September that he was willing to risk going to jail to publish Trump's tax returns. Should some IRS "source" respond to Kristof and illegally share Trump's tax documents, Baquet may get his request.

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