Listing 3 Exceptions, Lawyers Call Trump Money Russia-Free

WASHINGTON (CN) – A letter to the president from his private attorneys released on Friday says their study of Donald Trump’s tax returns shows only “a few exceptions” in the last 10 years where debts or incomes originated from Russia.

The first exception, according to the letter signed by Morgan Lewis and Bockius attorneys Sheri Dillon and William Nelson, is from the year that the Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow.

In 2013, according to the letter, “a substantial portion of” Trump’s $12.2 million in foreign income “was attributable to the Moscow event.”

Trump’s attorneys have their own income from Moscow. In 2016, the guidebook Chambers Europe recognized the Moscow offices of Morgan Lewis firm as “Russia Law Firm of the Year.”

Dillon and Nelson’s letter to the president, which is dated March 8, 2017, makes no mention of this. It does, however, note the time in 2008 when Trump Properties LLC sold an estate in Florida “to a Russian billionaire for $95 million.”

Trump acquired this property in 2005 for $41 million, according to the letter.

As for the third exception, the letter says Trump’s tax returns are silent as to the negligible amount of income that would stem from any The Trump Organization or “third-party entities engaged in ordinary course sales of goods or services to Russians or Russian entities.” 

Examples of these transactions would include hotel room rentals or rounds of golf, the attorneys noted. “Such income would not have been separately identified as ‘Russian’ in your books and records and therefore not separately reflected on your tax returns,” the attorneys told the president in parentheses.

“With respect to this last exception,” the letter concludes, “the amounts are immaterial.”

Otherwise, the attorneys found, Trump’s tax returns show no Russian investments into any Trump-owned entities and no debt owed by him to any lenders.

The letter does not address whether Trump or his organization ever received payments or loans from Russian entities registered elsewhere in the world.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted Friday that Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was given a copy of the letter previously.

In a recent interview with NBC News, the president told Lester Holt that the letter proved there were no shady financial ties between himself and the Kremlin.

The attorneys who signed the letter noted that their review started in 2005 because that is when they officially began to represent him and the Trump Organization.

Democrats have been vocal in their calls for a full release of the president’s tax returns, even offering resolutions directing the House to request the president’s returns straight from the Treasury Department for six straight weeks. Just last month, Democrats tried to force a House vote on legislation that would require presidents and presidential nominees to disclose their tax returns.

Republicans have been far less interested in seeing the statements, typically arguing that the president’s choice to keep them private is a personal decision and violates no law.

Trump has only hinted that he would wait until after he has left office to release them.

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