For those here that know me, I have been a tax professional for close to 30 years now. A couple of things I will point out about all of this.
1. A tax return is sensitive, private information. If the NYT got a copy of the President’s tax return, they obtained it illegally. You cannot get a copy of anything from the IRS unless you (taxpayer) or your representative, with a fully executed Power of Attorney, request it. So someone has violated the law.
2. An audit can last many, many years. I recently completed an audit for open audit years 2005-2012. So it is possible.