Schiff voices con­cerns about probe

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Greg Miller

House In­tel­li­gence chair­man ques­tions if Mueller has ad­e­quately scru­ti­nized Trump’s fi­nances.

The chair­man of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee ex­pressed con­cern Sun­day that spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller has not ad­e­quately scru­ti­nized Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s fi­nances and said House in­ves­ti­ga­tors plan to probe Trump’s re­la­tion­ship with a bank im­pli­cated in Rus­sian money laun­der­ing.

“We are not in­ter­ested in our com­mit­tee in whether he’s a tax cheat or not worth what he says he is,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., said in an ap­pear­ance on the NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “What we are in­ter­ested in is, does the pres­i­dent have busi­ness deal­ings with Rus­sia such that it com­pro­mises the United States?”

In par­tic­u­lar, Schiff said the House panel plans to in­ves­ti­gate Trump’s two-decade re­la­tion­ship with Deutsche Bank, a Ger­man in­sti­tu­tion that has paid hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in penal­ties in re­cent years af­ter ad­mit­ting its role in a $10 bil­lion money laun­der­ing scheme that al­lowed clients in Rus­sia to move vast sums over­seas.

Schiff voiced con­cern that Mueller has shied away from in­ves­ti­gat­ing Trump’s ties to the Ger­man lender, say­ing that “if the spe­cial coun­sel hasn’t sub­poe­naed Deutsche Bank, he can’t be do­ing much of a mon­ey­laun­der­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

Schiff was re­fer­ring to re­ports last year that Mueller’s of­fice had told Trump’s lawyers it was not seek­ing Deutsche Bank records re­lated to Trump’s ac­counts or loans. Deutsche Bank be­came a crit­i­cal lender to Trump in the late 1990s when ma­jor U.S. banks re­fused to do busi­ness with the New York real es­tate de­vel­oper af­ter re­peated bank­rupt­cies.

Trump has de­scribed his fi­nances as a “red line” Mueller should not cross, and he threat­ened to fire Mueller in late 2017 amid re­ports that the spe­cial coun­sel was seek­ing records from Deutsche Bank. Trump re­port­edly backed down af­ter his lawyers ob­tained as­sur­ances from Mueller.

Schiff said he is con­cerned that Trump’s “red line has been en­forced whether by the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral (Rod Rosen­stein) or by some other party at the Jus­tice Depart­ment. But that leaves the coun­try ex­posed.”

A spokesman for the spe­cial coun­sel did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

The House in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee has sought to bol­ster its in­ves­tiga­tive staff with fi­nan­cial and foren­sic ac­count­ing ex­perts, part of an ex­pan­sion of the TrumpRussia probe since Democrats gained con­trol of the cham­ber.

Trump has lashed out at Schiff in re­cent days, call­ing him a “po­lit­i­cal hack” and ques­tion­ing the com­mit­tee’s au­thor­ity to in­ves­ti­gate his fi­nances. “It’s called pres­i­den­tial ha­rass­ment,” Trump told re­porters last week. “And it’s un­for­tu­nate. And it re­ally does hurt our coun­try.”

Deutsche Bank has been a key player in loans to Trump’s com­pa­nies to­tal­ing more than $2 bil­lion, much of it ap­par­ently used to ex­pand his global golf re­sort hold­ings. The New York Times re­ported this month that Trump sought a loan from Deutsche Bank in 2016 but was re­jected in part be­cause bank of­fi­cials wor­ried about the prospect of seiz­ing as­sets from a sit­ting pres­i­dent if Trump won the elec­tion and de­faulted on the loan.


Rep. Adam Schiff said his panel will look at fi­nances.

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