Robert Mueller Declares War on President Trump
Today multiple sources report that Mueller has subpoenaed as many as a couple of decades of records of the Trump Organization’s dealings with Deutsche Bank.
Special prosecutor Robert Mueller zeroed in on President Donald Trump’s business dealings with Deutsche Bank AG as his investigation into alleged Russian meddling in U.S. elections widens.
Mueller issued a subpoena to Germany’s largest lender several weeks ago, forcing the bank to submit documents on its relationship with Trump and his family, according to a person briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the action has not been announced.
“Deutsche Bank always cooperates with investigating authorities in all countries,” the lender said in a statement to Bloomberg Tuesday, declining to provide additional information.
Deutsche Bank for months has rebuffed calls by Democratic lawmakers to provide more transparency over the roughly $300 million Trump owed to the bank for his real estate dealings prior to becoming president. Representative Maxine Waters of California and other Democrats have asked whether the bank’s loans to Trump, made years before he ran for president, were in any way connected to Russia. The bank previously rejected those demands, saying sharing client data would be illegal unless it received a formal request to do so. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
The best face one can put on this is that Mueller is carrying water for Congressional Democrats by using the power of his office to do what they could not do because of minority status.
But there may be more to it than that. Back in July, Trump gave an interview to the New York Times in which he pointedly warned that he would consider an investigation into his finances to be off limits and implied that he might fire Mueller if he went in that direction:
…And he took on Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel now leading the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election.
Mr. Trump said Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia. Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so. But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office.
Asked if Mr. Mueller’s investigation would cross a red line if it expanded to look at his family’s finances beyond any relationship to Russia, Mr. Trump said, “I would say yes.” He would not say what he would do about it. “I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia.”
If you believe what Andy McCarthy wrote yesterday (see Dan Spencer’s excellent coverage of that article), and Mueller is trying to build an “obstruction” case to justify impeachment, then going after Trump’s records, pursuing an indictment, and getting fired by Trump would be the obvious way to proceed.
I’ll say up front that I’m not a fan of either Robert Mueller or his investigation. From the beginning, his personnel choices and tactics seemed to be calculated to extract the maximum amount of pain and inflict as much damage as possible on the Trump White House and administration. It is pretty clear at this point that he’s abandoned any kind of investigation into “collusion” (whatever the hell that might look like never mind what part of the US Code that it would violate) between the Trump campaign and Russia and is now setting about to make it look like he did something productive by racking up as many indictments as he can on anything that strikes his fancy. (As an aside, if Mueller saw Mike Flynn as anything other than collateral damage he never would have indicted him for lying to the FBI and labeling him a convicted liar for future legal proceedings.) It is hard to draw any connection between a Trump loan and collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. If he can’t make that linkage, I’d be completely fine with Trump telling Mueller to clean out his desk.