The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION -

in the 2016 U.S. elec­tion should not be fo­cused solely on ev­i­dence of hack­ing and the gen­er­a­tion of fake news. Now that the pos­si­bil­ity has been raised that there was an eco­nomic con­nec­tion be­tween Pres­i­dent Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, it must also in­clude re­view of Mr. Trump’s tax re­turns.

Be­cause it is un­likely that Mr. Putin wrote checks with “pay­ments to in­flu­ence” in the in­for­ma­tion line, and be­cause both Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump are wealthy men, a large num­ber of eco­nomic struc­tures could have been em­ployed to trans­fer funds be­tween them, in­clud­ing com­mon money-laundering tech­niques, such as pur­chases of as­sets at in­flated prices. This means that the spe­cial coun­sel’s team should in­clude foren­sic ac­coun­tants to re­view Mr. Trump’s tax re­turns, and those of his con­trolled en­ti­ties, for at least sev­eral years. This does not mean the re­turns would be made pub­lic, un­less lit­i­ga­tion or pros­e­cu­tion fol­lowed from the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but fail­ure to an­a­lyze the re­turns would mean that one pos­si­ble av­enue of Rus­sian in­flu­ence was ig­nored.

John J. Ens­minger, Stone Ridge, N.Y. The writer is former chair of the Bank­ing and Sav­ings In­sti­tu­tions Com­mit­tee of the Amer­i­can Bar As­so­ci­a­tion Tax Sec­tion.

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