Tags: Donald Trump | Money | Russia | Russia Probe | Trump Administration | investigation | collusion

Trump-Mueller Tensions Come to Boil Over Following the Money

Image: Trump-Mueller Tensions Come to Boil Over Following the Money
FBI special counsel Robert Mueller (AP Photo)

By    |   Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 06:16 PM

Simmering tensions over a federal probe of Russia's influence in the 2016 campaign are coming to a full boil for President Donald Trump.

It was reported Thursday a wide-ranging, follow-the-money probe by special counsel Robert Mueller was expanding to include business dealings of Trump and his campaign associates – a red line the president had warned should not be crossed.

Late Thursday, the Washington Post reported that some of Trump’s lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut the investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president’s authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

According to The Hill, Mueller is also said to be probing potential obstruction of justice by Trump over his decision to axe FBI director James Comey at the height of the bureau's investigation into Russian meddling. Mueller was appointed as special consult as a result of the firing.

The expanding probe does not come as a total surprise, The Hill reported, noting Mueller has amassed a team of more than a dozen lawyers for the probe – including some who have donated to Democratic political candidates.

"I am totally not surprised that Mueller is following any leads," lawyer Steven Cash told The Hill. "That's the way all investigations are conducted, particularly into complex relations of business people."

Ron Hosko, who served as assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division under Mueller, told The Hill it appears Mueller is hiring lawyers "with substantial histories in complex white-collar crime, financial crimes."

"The number of people that he has hired starts to suggest that this will be an expansive — and if its expansive, it will be lengthy," he told The Hill.

But Trump is not the only one who thinks Mueller is overreaching.

"Mueller crosses 'red line' into potentially all of Trump's billion$ in transactions. We now face a partisan war of investigative attrition," Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, tweeted Thursday.

And as Trump's war of words escalate against Mueller, there is the specter of the president booting him — an action GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned against Thursday.

"Mueller like any good prosecutor will be looking at tweets, interviews, the Lester Holt interview, other public and private comments as potential admissions that are indicators of the president's true intent," he told The Hill.

"I think [Trump] is really on slippery terrain when he makes these public comments that . . . if charges were to come, could be potentially used as evidence of his intent."

"Depending how the rest of the case lines up, it could enhance his risk," he added.

An unnamed GOP consultant said the president's frustrations with the Russia probe is dragging the GOP into the fray whether they like it or not.

"They're tainted with him, they've stuck with him through pretty unimaginable things," the consultant told The Hill. "You're already scratching your head. One more bug is not going to make the difference."

Meanwhile, Bloomberg outlined an extensive money trail the Mueller probe is allegedly following: Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump's involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008.

They are also interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary, as well as the efforts of Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and White House aide, to secure financing for some of his family's real estate properties, according to Bloomberg.

Ironically, the roots of Mueller's follow-the-money investigation lie in a wide-ranging money laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last year, who was fired by Trump in March, Bloomberg reported.

FBI agents had already been gathering information about Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, Bloomberg reported.

The Bharara probe was consolidated into Mueller's inquiry, showing the special counsel is taking an overarching approach to his mandated investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Altogether, the various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller's inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Bloomberg reported.

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Simmering tensions over a federal probe of Russia's influence in the 2016 campaign are coming to a full boil for President Donald Trump.
investigation, collusion, finances, Trump Organization, Robert Mueller
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2017-16-20
Thursday, 20 Jul 2017 06:16 PM
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