Robert Mueller, the special counsel in the Trump-Russia probe, has moved to hire an all-star team in recent days. The hires suggest he is employing a follow-the-money approach to the investigation. The developments will raise new questions about Trump, and his associates', ties to Russia. Robert Mueller in recent days has hired lawyers with extensive experience in fraud, racketeering, and other financial crimes to help him investigate whether President Donald Trump's associates colluded with Russia to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller, who was appointed as special counsel last month to lead the probe into Russia's election interference, is also homing in on money laundering and the business dealings of Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, according to reports in the New York Times and Washington Post.
The developments indicate Mueller is taking a follow-the-money approach to the investigation that could leave Trump's own sprawling business empire hugely vulnerable.
Reaction to Robert Mueller's appointment to Russia investigation
Reaction to Robert Mueller's appointment to Russia investigation
Trump statement https://t.co/uXbFDYpIqP
My statement on DAG Rosenstein's decisions to appoint a special counsel https://t.co/s7i5LjPcg1
.@SpeakerRyan Statement on the Appointment of Special Counsel https://t.co/YhKhf5YVcV
Appointment of special counsel is very positive. Mueller is a solid choice who will help reestablish public confide… https://t.co/IJnOCOnZIw
Robert Mueller’s appointment is a positive step. I am hopeful that he will help us get to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
A special counsel is very much needed in this situation and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has done the right thing.
(1/2) I support the appointment of Bob Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation. https://t.co/AUVNzmzUk6
(2/2) Bob Mueller was a great U.S. attorney & FBI director. He’s respected, talented and has the knowledge & ability to do the right thing.
Having known him for years, I believe special counsel Mueller is a very good thing. He is one of the best -- indepe… https://t.co/IUnElVxegr
Mueller is a great selection. Impeccable credentials. Should be widely accepted.
Former Attorney General Eric Holder on appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in Trump/Russia affair: https://t.co/Sowez3yFyl
"He has the expertise and experience, and the guts and backbone to uncover truth," Sen. Blumenthal says of Robert M… https://t.co/gr11ooOMXl
Mueller is a good first step -- but can't take the place of an independent commission free from Trump's meddling. https://t.co/Dv6m4eC7xw
I commend @TheJusticeDept for taking the appropriate step of appointing a special counsel. https://t.co/tBgRzNrMGO
Robert Mueller's appointment as special counsel is a positive step. My statement: https://t.co/6pDM4z8hD4
Senator Collins’ statement on appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel #mepolitics https://t.co/Ku6hk5V75e
Murphy statement on appointment of special prosecutor for investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russia https://t.co/yjvIckje66
My full statement on the appointment of Special Counsel to oversee #TrumpRussia investigation… https://t.co/aEphkfSnKs
Mueller does not erase the need for an independent commission. #ProtectOurDemocracy https://t.co/q3ev9tfMWf
.@RonWyden's statement on the appointment of special counsel
Here's my statement on appointment of a special counsel to lead FBI Russia investigation: https://t.co/vsGhi6yiXp
My statement on the appointment of a #SpecialCounsel to investigate the troubling #TrumpRussia ties: https://t.co/iGlCWjTxd0
I’m encouraged to see @TheJusticeDept has appointed a special counsel to lead the investigation into #TrumpRussia https://t.co/0WNjIEJSqw
Mr. Mueller is a man of integrity and well chosen. Must ensure he has resources necessary for a rigorous investigation #SpecialCounsel
Bob Mueller is a man of integrity. I have every confidence he will pursue this investigation and follow the facts,… https://t.co/ZYXnqF1QYu
The issue of Russian meddling in our election must be investigated fully & former FBI dir. Mueller is well qualified to oversee this probe.
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Mueller has hired Lisa Page — a trial attorney in the Justice Department's organized crime section whose cases centered on international organized crime and money laundering — and Andrew Weissmann, a seasoned prosecutor who oversaw cases against high-ranking organized criminals on Wall Street in the early 1990s and, later, against 30 individuals implicated in the Enron fraud scandal.
Mueller has also recruited James Quarles, who specialized in campaign-finance research for the Watergate task force, according to Wired; Michael Dreeben, considered by some to be "the best criminal appellate lawyer in America"; and Aaron Zebley, a former senior counselor in the DOJ's National Security Division specializing in cybersecurity.
'A pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets'
As Trump praised and defended Russian President Vladimir Putin along the campaign trail, many questioned whether the real-estate mogul had any financial incentives — including business ties or outstanding debt — to seek better relations with Moscow.
"It's not wrong to do business with Russians," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on crime and terror, told CNN last month. "But Trump has said he never did business with the Russians."
The question came up again early last month after the golf writer James Dodson told WBUR that Trump's son, Eric, bragged in 2014 that the Trump family had secured access to $100 million from Russian lenders to fund their golf courses.
"He just sort of tossed off that he had access to $100 million," Dodson said. "I said, 'Eric, who's funding? I know no banks — because of the recession, the Great Recession — have touched a golf course. You know, no one's funding any kind of golf construction. It's dead in the water the last four or five years.'
"He said, 'Well, we don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia.' I said, 'Really?' And he said, 'Oh, yeah. We've got some guys that really, really love golf, and they're really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.'"
Eric has denied the story, which he called "completely fabricated." But it's not the first time one of Trump's sons has boasted of ties to Russia. In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. said the Trump Organization saw "a lot of money pouring in from Russia."
"Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets," he said at the time.
The Washington Post has reported that "Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities" since the 1980s, "and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world." The Trump Organization is also believed to have received loans from Russia when it was struggling in the 1990s, the report said.
The family's bank of choice has long been Deutsche Bank, which was the only bank willing to loan to Trump after he lost others money in a series of bankruptcies — something he figured "was the bank's problem, not mine," he wrote in his 2007 book, "Think Big: Make it Happen in Business and Life."
"What the hell did I care?" Trump wrote. "I actually told one bank, 'I told you you shouldn't have loaned me that money. I told you the goddamn deal was no good.'"
Deutsche Bank was fined earlier this year as part of a Russian money-laundering scheme that involved its Moscow, New York, and London branches. The bank refused earlier this month to hand over documents requested by five Democratic lawmakers related to the bank's relationship with Trump, citing the confidentiality of non-public customer information. But it's likely that the FBI could get a hold of them.
Trump, meanwhile, has denied having any ties — business or personal — to Russia.
"Russia has never tried to use leverage over me," Trump tweeted on January 11. "I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!"
Trump tweets since becoming president of the United States
Trump tweets since becoming president of the United States
.@FLOTUS Melania and I were honored to welcome Argentina President @MauricioMacri and First Lady Juliana Awada to t… https://t.co/gR3EPznu1H
As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks - Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!
Democrats used to support border security — now they want illegals to pour through our borders.
Democrats jeopardizing the safety of our troops to bail out their donors from insurance companies. It is time to put #AmericaFirst🇺🇸
What's more important? Rebuilding our military - or bailing out insurance companies? Ask the Democrats.
I promise to rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!
I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.
The Democrats want to shut government if we don't bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!
...subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good-deal very possible!
I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate. I agreed..
Democrats are trying to bail out insurance companies from disastrous #ObamaCare, and Puerto Rico with your tax dollars. Sad!
A great great honor to welcome & recognize the National Teacher of the Year, as well as the Teacher of the Year fro… https://t.co/pUGl7RDoVX
Today, I signed an Executive Order on Enforcing Statutory Prohibitions on Federal Control of Education. EO:… https://t.co/YYafFQncbC
Today, I signed an Executive Order @ the U.S. Dept. of @Interior: 'Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act… https://t.co/Eq6JDzMqTY
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our @FLOTUS, Melania! https://t.co/rYYp51mxDQ https://t.co/np7KYHglSv
The U.S. recorded its slowest economic growth in five years (2016). GDP up only 1.6%. Trade deficits hurt the economy very badly.
...the Ninth Circuit, which has a terrible record of being overturned (close to 80%). They used to call this "judge shopping!" Messy system.
Out of our very big country, with many choices, does everyone notice that both the "ban" case and now the "sanctuary" case is brought in ...
First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban & now it hits again on sanctuary cities-both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!
'Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in America' Executive Order:… https://t.co/LVMjZ9Ax0U
Remarks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's National Days of Remembrance. Full remarks:… https://t.co/BJbI6ZtGo7
Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.
Canada has made business for our dairy farmers in Wisconsin and other border states very difficult. We will not stand for this. Watch!
Proud of @IvankaTrump for her leadership on these important issues. Looking forward to hearing her speak at the W20! https://t.co/e6Uajrm8zp
Today, I signed the Holocaust Remembrance Proclamation: https://t.co/762SqgdLMV #ICYMI- My statement last night at… https://t.co/vrqqFDi8En
If our healthcare plan is approved, you will see real healthcare and premiums will start tumbling down. ObamaCare is in a death spiral!
Join me in congratulating @NASA's @AstroPeggy by using the hashtag #CongratsPeggy! Earlier today:… https://t.co/AUdJgxXiT4
....the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!
The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If
The two fake news polls released yesterday, ABC & NBC, while containing some very positive info, were totally wrong in General E. Watch!
...popular vote. ABC News/Washington Post Poll (wrong big on election) said almost all stand by their vote on me & 53% said strong leader.
New polls out today are very good considering that much of the media is FAKE and almost always negative. Would still beat Hillary in .....
Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.
The Democrats don't want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members.
ObamaCare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going - otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought.
Thank you Lake Worth, Florida. @foxandfriends
Very interesting election currently taking place in France.
I am committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs matter!
Today on Earth Day, we celebrate our beautiful forests, lakes and land. We stand committed to preserving the natural beauty of our nation.
Big TAX REFORM AND TAX REDUCTION will be announced next Wednesday.
Next Saturday night I will be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania. Look forward to it!
Getting ready to visit Walter Reed Medical Center with Melania. Looking forward to seeing our bravest and greatest Americans!
After 5 SB victories since 2002, it was my honor to give Bob Kraft, Coach Belichick, and the players their first to… https://t.co/UZPKjqoGZY
'Presidential Executive Order on Identifying and Reducing Tax Regulatory Burdens' Executive Order:… https://t.co/dpE6hDzlAt