In lieu of disclosing his actual tax returns, Trump asked two tax attorneys, Sheri Dillon and William Nelson, of the law firm Morgan Lewis to write a letter detailing Trump’s income from Russian sources. The letter, dated to March, was given to reporters on Friday. According to the letter, Trump owes no debts to Russian persons or entities, there are no “equity investments by Russians persons or entities” in Trump-controlled properties, and Trump has no investments in Russian entities. As it happens, Morgan Lewis itself is not only the longtime tax counsels to the Trump Organization but were named Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.
They do detail about $100 million in income from the sale of the Miss Universe pageant and a Florida estate.
On its face, this certainly tends to put to rest some fears and concerns that have been raised about Trump’s potential business ties to Russia and especially it’s heavily government-controlled banking sector.
Since Richard Nixon, every major party nominee for president has released multiple years of federal income tax returns so that citizens and journalists can get a sense of his finances and potential financial conflicts of interest. Donald Trump has broken with that practice, combining an unusually sprawling business empire, an unusually scanty level of financial disclosure, with the completely unique ongoing control of operating businesses.
The letter once again raises the question of why the public can’t see the actual tax returns. Trump and his team have certainly made a lot of false statements about a lot of significant subjects over the years, and it’s impossible to really tell what’s going on with various Trump business entities without actual access to the underlying financial records.