After months of speculation and dozens of indictments, special counsel Robert Mueller finally wrapped up his investigation on Friday evening. As Mueller delivered his report to Attorney General William Barr, he ended a crucial phase in the incredibly contentious probe into the president and Russia.
But even though Mueller’s investigation into 2016 U.S. election interference is over, there are several different ways inquiries into President Donald Trump, the Trump Organization and the Kremlin will continue. Here’s a look at what’s next for investigators.
Campaign Finance Investigations
Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York have been working parallel to the special counsel’s team for some time, and are now set to take over as the most prominent investigators targeting Trump. A primary subject of their investigation is the hush money paid to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep the women quiet about their alleged sexual affairs with Trump.
These payments, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, could mean the president committed campaign finance violations during the 2016 election race. Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen already pleaded guilty last year to campaign finance violations related to the $130,000 payoff to Daniels and has told investigators and Congress that he made the payment on Trump’s orders.
Cohen is reportedly continuing to provide SDNY federal prosecutors information on the case, but he’s not the only Trump associate who is cooperating with investigators. The SDNY’s prosecutors also reached a non-prosecution agreement in December with American Media Inc., which owns the National Enquirer. AMI admitted to prosecutors last December that it worked with the Trump team to pay McDougal $150,000 as a means of suppressing her story and bolstering Trump’s election chances.
The Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has also been cooperating with the SDNY since last August, leading to speculation that he could become an important figure in any future indictments.
Whether these payments constituted campaign finance violations will hinge on proof that they were specifically intended to influence the election, not because of ”personal reasons,” as Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani claims.
The House Judiciary Committee opened up a wide-ranging corruption probe into Trump in early March and sent document requests to 81 individuals, agencies and entities connected to the president.
The investigation is set to focus on whether Trump was involved in any campaign finance violations, obstructions of justice or abuses of power such as misuse of pardons. It will also further investigate possible criminal conspiracy between Trump and Russia, as well as efforts to cover up any potential conspiracy.
Many former and current members of Trump’s staff and family received document requests, including the president’s sons Eric and Don Jr. and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. The details of each document request vary based on the recipient, but range from audio and video recordings to personal diary entries that relate to the president.
Leading the investigation is House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a former attorney and congressman from New York. The White House and many Trump allies appear to be stonewalling Nadler’s document requests, however, and only eight of 81 requests for documents were returned by the deadline. Nadler expects that more individuals will eventually comply, but the White House has already rejected requests for certain materials, such as those related to Trump’s meetings and phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One problem for the House Judiciary Committee is that Trump and the White House may find it much easier to denigrate the Democrat-led probe as a leftist political attack on the president, as opposed to federal investigations that receive more bipartisan support. The congressional investigation is likely to continue on into the 2020 election race, which will also intensify pressure on the probe to produce results.
Trump, Deutsche Bank And The Buffalo Bills
A New York state attorney general investigation is looking into Trump’s dealings with Deutsche Bank, including his failed 2014 attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills football team. In early March, The New York Times reported that the attorney general’s office subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records related to the Bills deal, as well as other Trump Organization plans.
Although the banks are the primary target of the subpoenas, the investigation is yet another way Trump’s businesses and associates are coming under the microscope. Deutsche Bank loaned Trump at least $2 billion over recent decades despite other banks cutting him off for his financial instability.
Investigation Into Trump’s Inaugural Committee
Federal investigators have also had their eye on Trump’s inauguration committee for potentially committing illegal acts such as fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and a host other crimes. The inauguration raised an unprecedented $107 million dollars and spent exorbitant amounts on expenses such as makeup and rooms in the Trump International Hotel.
Federal prosecutors subpoenaed the inaugural committee in February for documents on how it spent the $107 million, requesting a wide range of materials that include records of payments to the Trump International Hotel or Trump Organization. It also singled out one donor by name: venture capitalist Imaad Zuberi, who donated $900,000 to the committee via a private equity company.
The subpoena was the most revealing incident to date related to the investigation and indicated that investigators are looking for a wide range of possible crimes. It’s likely that the SDNY, which issued the subpoena, will take the lead in the probe. Much like the other inquiries into Trump’s operations and inner circle, there’s no immediate end in sight for the investigation.