Saturday, May 13, 2017 1:00 am
Trump attorneys outline sources of Russia income
WASHINGTON – The White House on Friday released a letter from two tax attorneys for President Donald Trump claiming that his only income from Russian sources in the past 10 years came from fees for hosting the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, his sale of a Palm Beach mansion to a Russian businessman in 2008 and his company's routine sales of condo units and rounds of golf to Russians.
The attorneys said that their analysis came from a review of Trump's tax returns for the past 10 years.
However, they did not release the returns or provide any documents to support their claims.
The letter, from lawyers Sheri Dillon and William Nelson, also asserted that Trump holds no debt from Russian lenders and holds no equity in Russian entities. They explained that because of the way that Trump operates his businesses, his corporate income and debt would be disclosed on his personal tax returns.
Trump has come under increasing scrutiny over his possible ties to Russia – which he has denied – and is now facing a firestorm over his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director. Comey had been leading an investigation of Russian influence on the 2016 election and exploring whether any Trump associates had been involved.
Daniel Shaviro, a tax-law expert at New York University, said that without additional information on Trump's tax returns and income, the letter from the lawyers is “meaningless garbage.”
“There are too many ways that it could be misleading and incomplete, Shaviro said. “For example, suppose that Russian people controlled U.S. entities that were intermediaries. Or suppose that things were run through Russian allies, including former Soviet countries.”
He said the fact that the White House would release such a letter with no verification “makes me more suspicious, not less, of the president's financial ties.”
In 2008, Trump's son Donald Trump Jr. said at a real estate conference that Trump businesses “see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”