Lawyers for President Trump said Friday that a review of his last 10 years of tax returns do not reflect "any income of any type from Russian sources," with some exceptions. It's the latest attempt by the president to tamp down concerns about any Russian ties amid an ongoing investigation of his campaign's associates, the AP reports. Thus far, it hasn't been overly effective. The latest:
- The letter: Read it at Vox.
- The impetus: The White House said Trump asked his lawyers for the letter following a request from Sen. Lindsey Graham for information on any ties Trump might have to Russia. It was dated March 8 and written by partners at Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.
- The "exceptions": There were just two substantial ones: $12.2 million in mostly Russian foreign income from the 2013 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow and a Palm Beach property sold to a Russian billionaire in 2008 for $95 million (that deal was widely reported at the time). Any other money the Trump Organization's 500 entities received from Russia was "immaterial."
- Eyebrow raised: The lawyers' review takes into account only Trump's returns from the past 10 years, leaving open questions about whether there were financial dealings with Russia in earlier years. And as for those 10 years, Robert Schlesinger writes this for US News & World Report: "There's one key bit of missing data, however: the actual tax returns. Or to put it another way, there's no more reason today to believe that Trump and his businesses are free of Russian ties than there was yesterday."
- Another eyebrow: Bloomberg quotes an outside tax lawyer who calls it "kind of a silly letter. ... If someone in Russia is trying to influence you, they don’t have to give you Russian income. It could be Argentinian income from a New Zealand trust through a Cyprus entity.
- Eyebrows raised III: The tax law expert the Washington Post spoke with called the letter "meaningless garbage." Another tax expert is curious about the letter's silence on "indirect investment." The Post explains.
- Eyebrows down: Hot Air's assessment is this: "It’s a credible response to the speculation about Trump’s business interests, but it’s not likely to be accepted as definitive."
- The meme: The internet seized upon the phrase "with few exceptions," which was the phrasing the AP used in its breaking-news tweet. Time reports #withfewexceptions erupted on Twitter, and it rounds up some of the funnier uses of it. Example 1: "Mom, I'm still a virgin, #withfewexceptions." Example 2: "The Titanic enjoyed many pleasant and uneventful hours' sailing. #WithFewExceptions." And in keeping with the travel theme: "The Hindenburg enjoyed smooth travellings. #WithFewExceptions." Actor Zach Braff even got in on it.
- The footnote: Reuters notes Morgan Lewis has offices around the globe, including in Moscow. It—and others, including Sen. Chris Murphy—point out that a London-based ranking listed it as Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.
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