GOP Refuses to Follow Donald Trump’s Money within the Russia Investigation

The most well-known adage in Washington scandals might be “Follow the cash.” Disappointingly, if maybe not surprisingly, congressional Republicans appear immune to doing that with regards to President Donald Trump and the investigation into Russia’s interference into the U.S. political system.

“I do not see the hyperlink at this stage,” Rep. Mike Conaway, the Texas Republican main the House Russia investigation, advised USA Prime Time. “Deutsche Bank is a German financial institution – I do not see the nexus.”

Asked about exploring Russian-Trump enterprise transactions, Conaway was not moved. “I guess each huge financial institution has a Russian buyer someplace,” he mentioned.

Well certain, each huge financial institution could have some Russian buyer someplace. But there are a few issues that distinguish Deutsche Bank on this regard. For one factor, it was fined $630 million in January 2017 for its involvement in a $10 billion Russian money-laundering scheme. For one other, throughout the time-period the financial institution was washing the Russian money, it was additionally doling out enormous sums of cash to actuality tv star and actual property developer Donald Trump. Deutsche Bank is itself the nexus, in different phrases. As somebody dimly conscious of, not to mention main, the Russia investigation, Conaway ought to know this stuff.

According to a December 2016 evaluation by Bloomberg, Trump owed the German financial institution roughly $300 million as he was poised to imagine the presidency. As The Guardian’s Luke Harding recounts in his e book “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win,” this debt was not solely unprecedented however weird: He had borrowed the cash from Deutsche’s non-public wealth division, utilizing the cash to pay again a $330 million mortgage that he had defaulted on from the financial institution’s actual property division. “Asked whether or not it was regular to provide extra money to a buyer who was a spotty credit danger and a litigant, one former senior Deutsche Bank workers member mentioned: ‘Are you [expletive] kidding me?'” Harding wrote.

Cartoons on President Trump and Russia

The truth of the debt in and of itself is one thing Congress should be keeping track of whatever the Russia connection. As Harding writes:

This was an unprecedented sum for an incoming president and one which raised awkward questions on battle of curiosity. If Deutsche Bank have been to get into regulatory problem, one of many our bodies that will examine was the Department of Justice. Which reported to Trump. It was arduous to see how the division may work dispassionately. Or how Deutsche Bank would possibly take authorized motion in opposition to a sitting president if he defaulted once more.

But the Russia connection provides immediacy to the Deutsche nexus. For all the prurient curiosity in whether or not Trump ever engaged in unsanitary sexual acts with Russian prostitutes, monetary enmeshment is one other traditional approach for international intelligence companies to coopt intelligence targets. And whereas he has lengthy denied Russian enterprise entanglements, the general public report, together with Donald Trump Jr.’s famous 2008 declaration that “Russians make up a fairly disproportionate cross-section of loads of our property. … We see some huge cash pouring in from Russia,” signifies one thing else. As The Washington Post’s David Ignatius put it last November: “What’s clear, reviewing the information, is that Trump’s declare he had ‘nothing to do with Russia’ over time is nonsense.”

Many of the exact particulars of any Trump monetary preparations with Russia stay a thriller, in no small half as a result of he refuses to comply with the long-standing custom of presidential candidates and presidents releasing their tax returns – a call with which his Republican congressional defenders appear totally comfortable.

None of this proves that Trump has regarding monetary relationships with Russia. But that is the purpose: You cannot know what you are going to discover till you look. And there’s sufficient smoke to no less than look and see if one thing’s on hearth – this is not some random fishing expedition, as Republicans dismiss it, the place Democrats need to open up Trump’s books with none official foundation. (Though once more, his refusal to reveal his tax returns is itself foundation sufficient.)

Trump has mentioned that taking a look at his funds qualifies as a pink line which might be inappropriate to cross, and extremely Republicans appear content material to comply with his lead on the subject.

Another illustrative quote: House Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy advised Politico: “Isn’t that what Bob Mueller is doing?” Putting apart that such logic would dictate that Congress drop any investigation into Russia in any respect, the reply is: Yes.

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