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Trump's Lawyers Deny He Has Russian Income Or Debt, 'With A Few Exceptions'

President Trump's lawyers said that a decade's worth of his tax returns show he doesn't owe money to Russian lenders and that he has received no income from Russian sources, with "a few exceptions." Without copies of those returns, these statements cannot be verified.

In a letter released Friday, President Trump's lawyers said a decade's worth of his tax returns show that he doesn't owe money to Russian lenders and that he has received no income from Russian sources, "with a few exceptions."

The exceptions include this: "In 2008, Trump Properties LLC sold an estate in Florida, that it had acquired in 2005 for approximately $41 million, to a Russian billionaire for $95 million."

That buyer was Dmitry Rybolovlev, who never moved into the 62,000-square-foot mansion before tearing it down.

Another exception was the $12.2 million made from holding the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow in 2013, according to the letter signed by attorneys Sheri A. Dillon and William F. Nelson.

The lawyers also noted that Trump very likely has received undisclosed payments from Russians for hotel rooms, rounds of golf and Trump-licensed products, such as wine, ties and mattresses.

The March 8 letter was addressed to Trump, who passed it along to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Trump mentioned it during his Thursday NBC News interview with Lester Holt, saying he had "nothing to do with Russia. I have no investments in Russia. None whatsoever."

Without copies of Trump's tax returns, the claims by his lawyers cannot be verified. The lawyers did not define "Russians." Many companies based in Russia use subsidiaries in other places, such as Cyprus or the British Virgin Islands, to conduct transactions overseas.

In an interview with The Economist this week, Trump dismissed calls for his tax returns. Asked whether he would release them, he replied: "I doubt it. I doubt it. Because they're not going to ... nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters. Oh, at some point I'll release them. Maybe I'll release them after I'm finished because I'm very proud of them actually."

In recent days, the Trump administration has been caught up in an intensifying swirl of questions about potential financial ties involving Russians, Trump and his associates.

The lawyers who wrote the letter about his finances are with the firm Morgan Lewis & Bockius, which was named "Russia Law Firm of the Year" for 2016 by Chambers & Partners, which ranks lawyers.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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