Donald Trump's lawyers say he doesn't have any Russian money "with a few exceptions"

A letter from Trump's lawyers about his financial Russia connections is shady and intentionally evasive

By Matthew Rozsa

Published May 12, 2017 4:05PM (EDT)

 (Getty/Molly Riley/Kena Betancur/Photo Montage by Salon)
(Getty/Molly Riley/Kena Betancur/Photo Montage by Salon)

President Donald Trump's lawyers have released a letter that claims his last 10 years of tax returns do not reflect income from Russian sources — but they won't release the actual returns — and acknowledge there are "a few exceptions."

The White House claimed that Trump has released the letter to comply with a request by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, according to a report by the Associated Press. The letter said that Trump's tax returns do not indicate that he has "any income of any type from Russian sources," as well as "any debt owed by you or TTO to Russian lenders or any interest paid by you or TTO to Russian lenders."

That said, the letter identifies "a few exceptions," including the Miss Universe pageant when it was held in Moscow and a Florida estate that Trump Properties LLC sold to an unnamed "Russian billionaire" for $95 million.

The letter also argued that "TTO or third-party entities engaged in ordinary course sales of goods or services to Russians or Russian entities" would have "produced income attributable to Russian sources" that "would not have been separately identified as 'Russian' in your books and records and therefore not separately reflected on your tax returns."

The claims in this letter are at least partially contradicted by third-party reports. An analysis by Reuters in March found that "at least 63 individuals with Russian passports or addresses have bought at least $98.4 million worth of property in seven Trump-branded luxury towers in southern Florida." Similarly, the president's son Eric Trump is reported to have told golf journalist James Dodson in 2014 that "we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia."

On that occasion, Eric Trump was discussing the difficulty that golf courses had experienced in receiving loans from American banks during the Great Recession.

There's only one way to verify Trump's claims however.


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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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