Mueller Probe Flirts with Trump’s ‘Red Line’
Mueller Probe Flirts with Trump's 'Red Line'
Investigators Want to Know More About President's Dealings with Germany's Biggest Bank
There are fresh signs this morning that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election has expanded to include an examination of President Trump’s business empire and his longstanding dealings with Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank.
Bloomberg News reports that Mueller’s team has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank records relating to Trump and his family. The Trump organization reportedly owed the bank about $300 million from deals made before the president took office; the total is about half of the organization’s outstanding debt.
It’s not clear what connection, if any, there is between Russia’s interference in the U.S. election and Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank. But Deutsche Bank has been investigated repeatedly for its activities in Russia and has agreed to pay more than $600 million in penalties to American and British government regulatory agencies over its role in stock “mirror trades” that allowed Russian businesses to move money out of their country by converting rubles to dollars.
Russia’s central bank has concluded that $13.5 billion left Russia from 2014 to 2016 through mirror-trade transactions, including through other international banks that it has refused to identify publicly.
Trump has suggested that an expansion of Mueller’s investigation to include his businesses – beyond any business dealings with Russia – would cross a “red line” and could prompt him to retaliate. The implication of his remarks was that he would exercise his authority as president to fire Mueller.
Deutsche Bank apparently is cooperating with Mueller’s inquiry. The bank has resisted calls by Democratic members of Congress for it to be more transparent about its dealings with Trump.
Trump has insisted he does no business in Russia, but he has a longstanding and well-documented interest in investing there. “We are actually looking at something in Moscow right now,” he told a reporter for The New Yorker magazine in 1997, “and it would be skyscrapers and hotels, not casinos… And we’re working with the local government, the mayor of Moscow, and the mayor’s people. So far, they’ve been very responsive… I always go into the center.”
That deal apparently never materialized but at least some of Trump’s real estate developments in the U.S. have been bolstered by investments from wealthy Russians.