President Trump owes no debt to Russian lenders but has received some income from Russian sources over the past decade, his lawyers said Friday.
Trump’s legal team at the Washington, D.C.-based firm Morgan Lewis said in a certified letter that the former real estate magnate’s tax returns show he did not receive “any income of any type from Russian sources.” But the firm cited two exceptions, both of which have been widely reported.
In the letter, Trump lawyers Sherri Dillon and William Nelson also said that his taxes show that no Trump-controlled entities have Russian investors. Trump also owes no debt to Russian lenders, the firm said.
The returns do show $12.2 million Trump received from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow. The returns also show $95 million in income from Trump’s sale of Florida real estate to a Russian billionaire in 2008.
Dillon and Nelson state that “it is likely” that Trump’s businesses have “engaged in ordinary course sales of goods or services to Russians or Russian entities,” such as the sale of real estate or rental of hotel rooms.
“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 lawyers said.
It is unclear from the letter whether Trump’s lawyers reviewed other documents about his businesses or whether the certified letter relied solely on the tax returns. Trump has refused to release his taxes to the public, saying that they are under audit.
Trump asked his lawyers to produce the certified letter in response to questions about Russian business ties that were raised in a Senate hearing earlier this week.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said in that hearing that he wanted to find out more about Trump’s dealings in Russia after James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, said that he could not discuss the issue because it “impacts an investigation.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said after the hearing that Trump had hired a Washington, D.C. law firm to send a letter to Graham certifying that the former real estate magnate has no Russian business links.
“The president, obviously, was aware of Senator Graham’s suggestion after he made it today and he’s fine with that. He has no business in Russia. He has no connections to Russia. So he welcomes that,” Spicer said Tuesday.
“In fact, he is already charged a leading law firm in Washington, D.C., to send a certified letter to Senator Graham to that point that he has no connections to Russia,” he added.
Trump has directly denied having business dealings in Russia, though he has acknowledged his stake in the Miss Universe pageant. The sale of one of his $95 million Florida mansion has also been widely covered in the press.
In January, just after the publication of an uncorroborated dossier alleging various Trump connections to Russia, Trump denied having anything to do with Russia.
“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” he tweeted.
In an interview this week with NBC News’ Lester Holt, Trump said this week that he has no investments in Russia
“I have no investments in Russia, none whatsoever,” Trump said. “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, and I am…in total compliance in every way.”