Lawyers for President Donald Trump said Friday that a review of his last 10 years of tax returns did not reflect “any income of any type from Russian sources,” with exceptions related to income generated from a beauty pageant held in Moscow and multi-million dollar Florida estate sold to a Russian businessman.
The letter aimed to prove to the public and fight against the narrative of the Trump-hating media and the Democrats that President Trump has business ties with Russia amid an ongoing investigation of an alleged collusion between his campaign’s associates and Russia in the 2016 election.
The attorneys did not release copies of Trump’s tax returns, so The Associated Press cannot independently verify their conclusions. Their review also notably takes into account only Trump’s returns from the past 10 years, leaving open questions about whether there were financial dealings with Russia in earlier years.
Under U.S. law, releasing one’s taxes to the public or any entity public or private is not a requirement for one to be President. Tax releases are a political and partisan gimmick to destroy an opponent using whatever may be indicated in their taxes.
So far, Trump has refused to release his Tax Records despite pressure from Democrats, breaking with a practice set by his predecessors. The public is solely with him.
According to the attorneys, the tax returns largely reflect income and interest paid by the web of corporate entities that made up The Trump Organization prior to Trump taking office.
In the letter dated March 8 and released to the AP (Associated Press), the attorneys said Trump’s last 10 years of tax returns don’t reflect equity investments by Russians in entities controlled by Trump or debt owed by Trump to Russian lenders. Under U.S. tax law, not all financial ties would be required to be reported on a personal tax return.
The letter did, however, reflect income from a 2013 Miss Universe Pageant that was held in Moscow and a property sold to a Russian billionaire for $95 million 2008.
The White House said Trump asked his lawyers for the letter following a request by Senator Lindsey Graham and which was later forwarded to him. Graham leads one of the congressional committees investigating alleged Trump ties to Russia’s and Russian interference in last year’s election.
“I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever,” Trump said Thursday in an interview with NBC News.
“I don’t have property in Russia. A lot of people thought I owned office buildings in Moscow. I don’t have property in Russia.”
The president said he “had dealings over the years,” including the Miss Universe pageant and the sale of a home to “a very wealthy Russian.”
”I had it in Moscow long time ago, but other than that I have nothing to do with Russia,“ he said, referring to the pageant.
The unnamed Russian billionaire cited by the Trump company’s lawyers is Dmitry Rybolovlev, whose financial empire springs from his companies’ production of potash, often used for fertilizer.
Trump had purchased the 62,000 square-foot estate for $41.35 million in 2004 and he sold the mansion to Rybolovlev in July 2008 for $95 million. The deal was widely reported at the time, including by The Associated Press.
When Trump was pressed during a campaign conference last year about his ties to Russia, he said: “You know the closest I came to Russia, I bought a house a number of years ago in Palm Beach,” adding that “I sold it to a Russian for $100 million.”
The letter, written by attorneys Sheri Dillon and William Nelson from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, has already been dismissed by Democrats and media who are accusing Trump of trying to hide “something” by using his lawyers to furnish this letter.
The letter doesn’t vouch for any of Trump’s personal federal tax returns that predate the past decade. The attorneys also write that over the last 10 years, it is likely that the Trump Organization sold or rented condos, or other products, that “could have produced income attributable to Russian sources.”
“With respect to this last exception, the amounts are immaterial,” the attorney wrote.
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