The investigation into Russian interference
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.