In stark contrast to the administration he’s probing, special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has been remarkably free of leaks. But even the tightest lipped organization can tip its hand when it doesn’t intend to.
That appears to be the case with a CNN report Tuesday, which reveals details about how questions Mueller’s prosecutors have asked witnesses point to a shocking new area of interest for the special counsel.
Kara Scannell, Pamela Brown, Gloria Borger and Jim Sciutto teamed-up to report that Robert Mueller has turned his attention to Trump’s relationship with Russian oligarchs and the business deals they partnered on in the years before he decided to run for president. His concern appears to be that the nature of those business relationships influenced his decision to pursue the White House in 2016.
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“Questions to some witnesses during wide-ranging interviews included the timing of Trump’s decision to seek the presidency potentially compromising information the Russians may have had about him, and why efforts to brand a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through” the CNN report states, citing two sources close to witnesses in the investigation.
In the years leading up to the election, the Trump Organization’s portfolio in Russia and other former Soviet republics conspicuously expanded, peaking with the Miss Universe pageant held in Moscow in 2013. For over a decade prior to that coming out party, however, Trump had done business with Russian oligarchs on multiple occasions on deals totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The pattern of plot points on the trajectory of Trump’s rise to the White House is what seems to concern Robert Mueller.
“The lines of inquiry indicate Mueller’s team is reaching beyond the campaign to explore how the Russians might have sought to influence Trump at a time when he was discussing deals in Moscow and contemplating a presidential run,” the CNN report continues.
President Trump has warned Mueller in the past not to investigate his or his family’s finances beyond the 2016 campaign. In July of 2017, he told the New York Times that expanding his probe outside of that narrow scope would cross a “red line.”
Trump and his sycophants in congress and in the conservative media bubble have echoed this threat. What they don’t want to hear it, however, is that Robert Mueller’s investigation show no signs of slowing down any time soon.