Wednesday 18 October 2017

Trump had no income from Russians 'with some exceptions' including Miss Universe income, lawyers say

US President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP
US President Donald Trump. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A review of Donald Trump's last 10 years of tax returns has found they do not reflect "any income of any type from Russian sources", with some exceptions, his lawyers said.

It is the latest attempt by the US president to tamp down concerns about any Russian ties amid an ongoing investigation of his campaign's associates.

The lawyers did not release copies of Mr Trump's tax returns, so The Associated Press cannot independently verify their conclusions.

Their review also notably takes into account only Mr Trump's returns from the past 10 years, leaving open questions about whether there were financial dealings with Russia in earlier years.

In a letter released to the AP, the lawyers said there is no equity investment by Russians in entities controlled by Mr Trump or debt owed by him to Russian lenders.

However, it did reflect some exceptions, including income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow and a property sold to a Russian billionaire in 2008 for 95 million US dollars.

The White House said Mr Trump asked his lawyers for the letter following a request from Senator Lindsey Graham for information on any ties Mr Trump might have to Russia.

Mr Graham leads one of the congressional committees investigating Russia's interference in last year's election.

The letter came amid an active FBI probe into the Trump 2016 campaign's possible ties to Russia's election meddling and days after Mr Trump's stunning firing of FBI director James Comey.

"I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever," Mr Trump said in an interview with NBC News on Thursday.

"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 fertiliser.

Trump had purchased the 62,000 square-foot estate for 41.35 million dollars in 2004, and he sold the mansion to Mr Rybolovlev in July 2008 for 95 million dollars.

The deal was widely reported at the time, including by The Associated Press.

When Mr 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 dollars".

The letter, written by lawyers Sheri Dillon and William Nelson from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, simultaneously leaves open the possibility of other Russian ties while attempting to dismiss them.

The letter does not vouch for any of Mr Trump's personal federal tax returns that predate the past decade.

The lawyers also write that over the last 10 years, it is likely that the Trump Organisation 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," they wrote.

Press Association

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