Trump's lawyers say tax returns show little income from Russia
The White House has released a letter by President Donald Trump's lawyers which said Trump's tax returns revealed that he didn't receive any income from Russian sources besides a few exceptions. The letter's release comes after Trump fired FBI director James Comey, who was leading an investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign and Moscow's alleged interference in the presidential election.
Although not mandated by law, American Presidents have voluntarily released tax returns since Richard Nixon's presidency. Pressure has been increasing on Trump since his campaign days to release them. Trump's counsel Kellyanne Conway in January had stated, "people don't care about Trump's tax returns", sparking considerable outrage. Trump had earlier said, "I am not releasing them.....as they're under audit."
On May 12, President Donald Trump insisted that he isn't under investigation and called FBI director James Comey, who he had recently fired, a "showboat" and "grandstander." Comey was leading an FBI inquiry about Russia's alleged interference in the US presidential elections and possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Trump has dismissed the inquiry as a "charade," which Comey's successor directly contradicted.
The letter, dated March 8, said Trump also didn't owe any money to Russian lenders. It said Trump's only income from Russian sources was from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and the sale of a Florida estate to a Russian billionaire in 2008.
Trump's attorneys said his businesses may have "immaterial" earnings from Russians over the years from condominium rentals or sales, hotel rooms, rounds of golf, and sales of Trump-licensed products. Neither Trump, nor his businesses have made payments to Russian lenders, Trump's tax returns revealed. Trump doesn't have any investments in Russian firms and vice-versa.
The White House said the letter was in response to a request by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who is leading congressional investigations into Russia's alleged election meddling. It is important to note that the letter doesn't include his tax returns so his lawyers' claims can't be verified independently. Trump has resisted outside pressure to voluntarily disclose his tax returns.
"If someone in Russia is trying to influence you, they don't have to give you Russian income," said Michael Kosnitzky, an independent lawyer. "It could be Argentinian income from a New Zealand trust through a Cyprus entity."