Last July, President Donald Trump warned the special counsel Robert Mueller that it would be a “violation” for him and his group of Justice Department investigators to examine the Trump family’s finances. The president agreed with a New York Times reporter’s question about whether doing so would amount to crossing a “red line.”
Mueller apparently has decided to cross that line anyway.
The Times reported that Mueller’s team has subpoenaed Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, for records pertaining to a number of business deals — including some related to Russia.
Trump and his lawyers have thrown down all sorts of gauntlets around Mueller’s probe. They have argued for a tight deadline leading to its conclusion; negotiated for where, when and how the president might agree to an interview with investigators; and pointed to areas that they think are off-limits.
It would appear that Mueller, with the full force of the law and subpoena power behind him, intends to proceed as he sees fit.
Mueller has already made it clear that he wouldn’t hesitate to look at Trump’s business transactions. Bloomberg News reported last July — just a day after Trump conversed with the Times about that red line — that Mueller was expanding the scope of his investigation to Trump’s commercial dealings.
Mueller’s probe seems to be pursuing three primary questions.
The first is whether Trump or his campaign worked with the Kremlin to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor.
The second is whether Trump or his advisers obstructed justice to derail the federal investigation.
The third involves the possibility of financial quid pro quos that Trump and his family members (especially his son-in-law, Jared Kushner) may have sought in exchange for public policy favors (like, for example, possibly lifting economic sanctions on Russia or shifting U.S. Ukraine policy).
The quid pro quo stuff is likely to be all about money ultimately, and now Mueller is venturing into the Trump Organization itself, the nexus of all of the president’s business deals.
It is ironic that Mueller is digging into quid pro quo matters of a private businessman, and not Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
Once again, Mueller is digging into things that have absolutely nothing to do with President Trump’s campaign for office, or the scope of his investigation, or an investigation that should actually be occurring into the Uranium One deal.
Trump has repeatedly called Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt,” and his lawyers have said that the last decade of Trump’s tax returns (which the president has declined to release) would show that he had no income or loans from Russian sources. Last year, Trump told NBC that he had no property or investments in Russia.
“I am not involved in Russia,” he said.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
March 18th, 2018