Special counsel Robert Mueller has taken his Russia investigation closer to the heart of Donald Trump, looking into the finances of the president and his family.
Mueller has asked Deutsche Bank to share information on accounts held by the Trump family as part of his investigation into Russia’s alleged attempts to influence the 2016 election, Reuters reported Tuesday. The bank has loaned the Trump Organization millions of dollars over the years.
Trump does not like revealing details of his finances. He still hasn’t released his tax returns, unlike other presidents in recent history.
And in July, Trump implied that he would consider firing Mueller if he started looking into his finances. From his interview with New York Times reporters Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman:
SCHMIDT: Last thing, if Mueller was looking at your finances and your family finances, unrelated to Russia — is that a red line?
HABERMAN: Would that be a breach of what his actual charge is?
TRUMP: I would say yeah. I would say yes. By the way, I would say, I don’t — I don’t — I mean, it’s possible there’s a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don’t make money from Russia. ...
SCHMIDT: But if he was outside that lane, would that mean he’d have to go? [crosstalk]
HABERMAN: Would you consider ―
TRUMP: No, I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia. So I think if he wants to go, my finances are extremely good, my company is an unbelievably successful company. And actually, when I do my filings, peoples say, “Man.” People have no idea how successful this is. It’s a great company. But I don’t even think about the company anymore. I think about this. ’Cause one thing, when you do this, companies seem very trivial. O.K.? I really mean that. They seem very trivial. But I have no income from Russia. I don’t do business with Russia. ...
HABERMAN: Would you fire Mueller if he went outside of certain parameters of what his charge is? [crosstalk]
SCHMIDT: What would you do? [crosstalk]
TRUMP: I can’t, I can’t answer that question because I don’t think it’s going to happen.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Trump has reportedly considered firing Mueller in the past. Last week, after Mueller charged Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, with lying to the FBI, speculation picked up again that the president may take the drastic step.
“I would worry in a real way that Donald Trump may preemptively pardon some people, and I still worry in a real way that Donald Trump may decide to cause the firing of Robert Mueller,” Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney who was ousted by Trump, said on Monday.
With Flynn now cooperating with Mueller, the investigation is moving closer and closer to Trump and his inner circle ― including his son-in-law and trusted adviser, Jared Kushner.
Trump, of course, is in this situation because he initially fired James Comey. The FBI director said Trump approached him and tried to get him to ease up on the Russia investigation and to specifically be lenient toward Flynn ― who lied about his interactions with Russian officials before the inauguration.
After the disclosure of the pressure Trump had placed on Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel.
UPDATE: 3:32 p.m. ― Trump ignored a reporter’s shouted question about the “red line” Tuesday during an Oval Office event. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders punted on a similar question Tuesday afternoon, referring to the statement of Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, who denied that there were any subpoenas for financial information.