Understanding that there could be at least some legal risk attendant to publication of Trump’s tax returns, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet and Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward said at Harvard in September that they would be willing to do jail time, if that were the price to pay.
In October, the Times published the first page of Trump’s 1995 New York state resident income tax return, the first page of his New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of his Connecticut nonresident tax return. Like Johnston did Tuesday, Times reporter Susanne Craig said at the time that she found the tax documents in her mailbox.
After the Times published its story, the legal blog Concurring Opinions collected the views of 10 experts in First Amendment law, who concluded that the newspaper was likely on firm ground, so long as it did not participate in illegally accessing Trump’s tax documents. The same applies to Maddow and Johnston now.