After a failed, wasteful 12 month investigation started by the FBI then continued by Special Council Robert Mueller* into finding a criminally collusive connection between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election (as if the Russians who hacked the White House** needed Trump to hack the DNC) it was learned on Thursday that Mueller would be moving the goal post and expanding the probe to President Trump's business dealings.
*10 months by the FBI under Comey and 2 by Mueller.
**In 2014 (see).
Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with the matter, that:
"FBI investigators and others are looking at 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."
This development comes as no surprise. For in early June, after the FBI collusion probe came to naught with practically nowhere else to go, Mueller began hiring lawyers with extensive experience in dealing with fraud, racketeering, money laundering and other financial crimes. And now, according to an unnamed source, Mueller's team has "issued subpoenas to banks and filed requests for bank records to foreign lenders under mutual legal-assistance treaties."
And many on the destroy Trump left citing a recent "spectacular" article in the New Republic ("Trump's Russian Laundromat") on the billionaire president's known business dealings with corrupt Russian oligarchs and Putin mobsters (who used his properties to "launder money, hide assets and as a base for their criminal operations") are in a state of orgasmic joy that this is it for Trump; that the jig is up; that Trump who refuses to disclose his tax returns is hiding all kinds of crimes and damning things committed with Russians that Mueller is going to uncover. Indeed, they can see and smell and taste impeachment - and Trump resigning in Richard Nixon like Watergate disgrace with Pence playing the pardoning Gerald Ford. But, as usual, they are deluding themselves.
Indeed, the "spectacular" New Republic article (a sad political hit piece) is based on old news and info taken from the public record and known to two agencies of the US government that have investigated with laser like intensity Donald Trump and his alleged "criminal" ties: the IRS and General Services Administration*.
*The IRS has an annul budget of $11 billion; and the GSA (with its own attorneys and investigators) a budget of $20 billion. In other words, both have the money, manpower and resources to thoroughly investigate large corporations like Trump Org. for illegalities and crimes.
The IRS has been auditing and scrutinizing Trump for two decades and they know every nick and cranny of his dealings and transactions with foreign entities and nationals (Russian and otherwise); and to date they haven't so much as found a smidgen of illegality despite known Russian criminals and Putin cronies buying high-end apartments, condos and homes from him (as they have from many of Trump's competitors). Indeed, when a civil audit is being done and something suspicious turns up (and there is perhaps much in Trump's business dealings with Russians to raise red flags) the auditor refers it to the IRS's Criminal Investigation Division (CID) with has 2200 special agents for investigating the full range of financial crimes from money laundering to funding terrorist groups and corporate espionage (see). And if the CID investigated Trump, which is likely, no crimes were found, or else he'd be in jail.
Indeed, during the campaign when Trump said he was under audit (and used it as an excuse to keep his tax returns private) surely the profoundly corrupt "Chicagoland" Barack Obama (frightened at the prospect of a President Trump destroying his legacy) had the abusive, intrusive, politicized IRS working overtime desperately looking for incriminating dirt to stop him - and found nothing. Those who doubt that Obama wouldn't use extralegal means to stop Trump need reminding on how the IRS was harassing conservatives, tea partiers, Romney donors and Obama's political enemies while he was president (see and see and see). Indeed, as late as October 2016, 16 months into the campaign, Trump was complaining that the IRS was still examining him - which is excessively long by any measure, but not improbable given the critical political situation and what was at stake for Obama and the Democrats if Hillary lost the election.
But the IRS wasn't the only government agency to scrutinize Trump's finances in general and dealings with Russians in particular. When the Trump Organization beat out the competition and won the Old Post Office project in Washington (to convert the landmark building into a luxury hotel) the General Services Administration (GSA) conducted a wide-ranging, comprehensive investigation into his finances and business practices. "It was one of the most highly scrutinized [vetted] deals the GSA has ever done," reports Buzzfeed (see). There was no way the GSA (US government) was going to partner a major real estate deal with a criminal enterprise illegally in bed with Russian oligarchs, mobsters and crooks. But the scrutinization of Trump doesn't begin and end with the IRS and GSA. As noted in the New Republic piece:
"For the past three decades, state and federal investigators, as well as some of America’s best investigative journalists, have sifted through mountains of real estate records, tax filings, civil lawsuits, criminal cases, and FBI and Interpol reports, unearthing ties between Trump and Russian mobsters....... and found no smoking gun."
So the big question now is this: what crimes could Robert Mueller and his crew find in Trump's dealings with Russians that the IRS, GSA, numerous state justice departments and journalists have missed? In covering the same ground gone over so many times by many others it looks like Mueller is just wasting taxpayers money to find nothing all over again. Indeed, Trump knows that if Mueller sticks to his mandate and limits his investigation to Russia related things it will soon be over. But his concern is Mueller joining the partisan destroy Trump witch hunt - pushing beyond his mandate and jurisdiction to look at all his business dealings, not just, for example, the Miss Universe Contest in Russia, but in other countries where it was held: Brazil, Mexico, Bahamas, etc. An investigation of that scope with no parameters or limits going on and on, moving the goal post farther and farther, until hopefully some crime somewhere is found* could be very politically damaging to Trump, paralyze his ability to govern effectively and role out with his MAGA agenda. And this shouldn't be tolerated.
*Like special prosecutor Patrick FitzGerald in the Plamegate case nabbing Scooter Libby for perjury 33 months after he discovered where the leak came from.
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