Former FBI director and special counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, which has loaned President Trump hundreds of millions of dollars.
An unnamed “person close to the matter” told Reuters that Mueller’s subpoena involves money and credit transactions, but wouldn’t give additional details. According to Reuters, Deutsche Bank — the largest bank in Germany — once paid $630 million in fines to regulators in the U.S. and the UK after it was caught organizing $10 billion in bogus trades that may have been used to launder money for Russian oligarchs. The New Yorker reported that some of that money is believed to have belonged to Igor Putin — cousin of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The news of the subpoena is a significant breakthrough in the ongoing investigation of President Trump and possible collusion with Russians during the 2016 presidential election, as Democrats in the House of Representatives tried unsuccessfully in the summer to get Deutsche Bank to turn over financial documents related to Trump.
During an interview with the New York Times earlier this year, Trump himself issued an ominous warning to the special counsel, saying that looking into his finances would be a “violation” of the investigation’s Russian focus. In that same interview, he refused to answer a question about whether or not he would fire Mueller if his probe went into his business transactions.
However, Bloomberg reported in July that Mueller was already looking into a number of Trump’s business transactions, continuing on the work of an extensive money laundering investigation launched by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired not long after his inauguration. One of those transactions was the $95 million sale of a 62,000-square-foot Florida mansion between Trump and Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev. An LLC owned by Rybolovlev made the purchase, which was then transferred to a trust.
Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort — who was indicted by Mueller in late October for money laundering — was behind a similar series of dubious real estate transactions in New York and California using LLCs in his name. The multi-million dollar purchases were made in cash.
The Trump family has had to rely on Russian backers for real estate ventures in the past, as the Trumps were unable to get funding from Wall Street due to Trump’s six prior bankruptcies. In 2014, Eric Trump let it slip to Golf magazine writer James Dodson that the Trump family had access to $100 million in Russian funding to build a golf course in North Carolina.
“We don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia,” the Trump scion told Dodson. “We just go there all the time.”
Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based freelancer specializing in national and state government issues. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.